Utility Week

UTILITY Week 14th October 2016

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6 | 14TH - 20TH OCTOBER 2016 | UTILITY WEEK People & Opinion Renewables is more than targets It's time the clean tech industry reframed the debate about renewables and industrial strategy. Chief executive's view Nina Skorupska, Renewable Energy Association I t's been a month now since the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee report was published pointing the finger at (what was) Decc and the DfT for failing to keep on track with our legally binding transport and heat targets. The Twittersphere has since moved on and the headlines have faded, and we've reflected in the accompanying silence. I think the actual coming of the year 2020 provides us with a refreshing opportunity to redefine the relationship of many in government to our industry. The 2020 targets have been exceedingly important to date: the renewables sector now boasts 117,000 jobs and a growth rate twice that of the overall economy. It has spurred an outstanding shi in power generation, and although so far not to expectations in heat and transport, good progress has been made around the develop- ment of renewable gases (such as biomethane), biomass heat, EV's and decarbonising our fos- sil fuels used in transport. The targets have spurred enormous investment and form the basis of our domestic carbon budgets. From our initial conver- sations, it looks like the new gov- ernment is assuming the targets remain relevant and need to be met. We need to see much more cross-government action on this, with DfT and DCLG crucial, coupled with a robust long-term strategy for decarbonisation. Our focus as an industry should be beyond the targets. We're bigger than these; we have developed a range of extraordi- nary products to help address one of the greatest collective problems in history, and the world has committed to ditch- ing the old way of doing busi- ness by signing the Paris climate agreement. I can caveat this with plenty of side points. It was very wel- come to get parliamentarians and the public discussing our renewables commitments and the importance of decarbonis- ing heat and transport at the ECC Committee hearings leading up to the report. We welcomed the opportunity to input and offer oral evidence when the time was right, and the announcement largely reflected what we've been saying in a number of press releases, articles, and conversa- tions over the past two years. The renewables and clean tech industry have to reframe our debate. We must begin to look beyond targets and subsi- dies, to recognise how renewa- bles address the challenges of building the much-needed new energy infrastructure at the low- est cost. How they put the con- sumer at the heart of the market, pulling the control and means away from the centre. What is also clear to us, as I am sure it is to many on the streets, pubs, and even offices of Whitehall, is that beyond the media's speculation about the government's Brexit plans, they are still very much in develop- ment. Rival views are emerging, a snap election may be loom- ing, and new political camps have been formed following the referendum. We need to make one point abundantly clear: that renewa- bles and clean tech offer an extraordinary opportunity for UK growth, productivity, and indus- trial development. This should be communicated by the various organisations and companies at play as a "no-brainer" win for the government. The next big policy goal that we should strive for is clear; position renewables and clean tech securely at the heart of the industrial strategy. We need to make clear that this industry can deliver the growth and industrial "upgrade" that is needed. To achieve this we need to melt away the government's cur- rent apprehensions about renew- ables and clean technology and make sure they understand that we're not R&D, or an experi- ment, or a fad. This is a global industrial shi that, to varying degrees, will impact every coun- try under the sun. We also see a clear opportu- nity for the nation's engineers, designers, and financiers in building this connected system. We certainty see 300,000 jobs in the industry. Watch this space as the REA takes a lead in the coming months. "The go-ahead will reduce the gas we will need to import from regimes fronted by henchmen, hangmen and head choppers as the UK will need to use gas for years to come" Stuart Fegan GMB National Officer for the gas industry, on the government's approval of a bid by Cuadrilla to extract shale gas in Lancashire.

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