Increased investment in renewables is not an optional extra for the UK. Once the UK’s Government established the world’s first legally binding climate change target with the 2008 Climate Change Act, it pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions by a huge 80 per cent by 2050. To achieve this, the Government set up the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), with the objective of creating a more energy efficient economy supported by low-carbon initiatives. Today, however, that objective seems to have been drastically hobbled, as DECC has changed its stance on supporting large scale solar installations, one of the UK’s most productive and cost effective ways of generating green energy.
The Government has declared its intention to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidies scheme to solar farms above 5MW in capacity from spring of next year. While DECC estimates that this will save approximately £100m a year from its Levy Control Framework (LCF) clean energy subsidy budget from 2017, the negative impact of the announcement could prove costly to the UK, as investor confidence in green energies is dented. The Government’s hesitancy to provide full and vocal support to large scale solar initiatives has placed a question mark over the future support of all types of renewable energy, as governmental policies appear to be driven by political expediency, rather than a strategic approach to creating a low-carbon economy in the UK. As a concrete example of this, Ernst and Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index now rates the UK behind the US, China, Germany, Japan and Canada, due to the Government’s lack of commitment to green energies such as solar.