Speaking at the Renewable UK Conference yesterday, Chris Huhne, spoke of the need for a good mix of energy sources going forward and ‘flexible energy portfolio'. This is certainly something we support and welcome the news of growth of the renewables sector, but is a one percentile increase year on year going to get us to our 30 percent target by the end of the decade?
As Huhne states, this requires a fourfold increase and as he rightly says ‘this will not be easy' and ‘will require clear thinking'.
Clear thinking to me would be to assess whether the UK policy approach is truly the best one to get us there. Having a target for renewable energy is not the best option. Huhne states he does not want to pick favourites, however, this is exactly what a renewables target does.
He states we can't rely on one source, yet his speech seems to focus mainly on off-shore wind. The CCC report published in May of this year found that by 2020 off-shore wind will still be 60 percent more expensive than new nuclear and 20 percent more than CCS.
The decision on what energy mix the UK has should be left to the market to decide how best to decarbonise, rather than limiting options with a renewables target.
This does not make us naysayers or sceptics, we support the push to decarbonising our energy sources and reducing energy costs – the coalition should not just carry on with an obligation that the previous administration agreed to without fully assessing alternative approaches. As we have long argues, manufacturing is at the heart of this transition as evidenced by the firms Huhne spoke of in his speech.