UK renewable energy industry calls for government support

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The U.K.’s Renewable Energy Agency (REA) trade association has attempted to put the pressure on Chancellor George Osborne ahead of Thursday’s autumn statement.

Thursday’s speech is a review of the government’s tax and spending policies midway through the annual budget cycle.

The REA has called for Osborne to use the autumn statement to remove the policy uncertainty which has dogged renewables investors in the U.K., not least since prime minister David Cameron pledged to roll back the green subsidies he claimed were a factor in rising domestic fuel bills and was reported by English tabloid newspaper The Sun to have told aides to remove the ‘green crap,’ from bills, although he has denied making such remarks.

In a press release issued by the REA on Monday, the organization’s chief executive, Nina Skorupska, said: "Politics affects investment. George Osborne can send a clear signal on Thursday that the long-term security of our energy system and our climate is more important than short-term political point-scoring. If energy policy remains a political football right up until the election, this will delay or cancel important energy projects."

With former secretary of state for energy and climate change Chris Huhne telling the Guardian newspaper Cameron’s green ambitions are a battle of wills with Osborne and the Treasury’s economic agenda, Thursday could prove a pivotal point for U.K. renewables, although the chancellor’s much publicized embrace of shale gas does not bode well for the renewables lobby.

U.K. government has scored ‘bizarre own goal’

The frustrations of U.K. solar investors were conveyed by Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA) in the REA press release with Barwell stating: "Government’s actions are often very positive but they are undermining the renewables industry and their own successes with needlessly negative language that damages confidence. It’s a bizarre own goal. We’d like to hear the Chancellor now champion and celebrate the extraordinary achievements in the solar sector."

Despite the volatile political debate, 16 clean energy companies from the U.K. are this week participating in a week-long ‘clean and cool’ trade mission to Colorado where they will network, showcase technologies and take part in the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s industry growth forum.

The U.K. companies taking part in the government-backed trade delegation include London’s Renovagen, which has developed a mobile off-grid thin film PV system which can be transported in a 20-foot shipping container for off-grid use in disaster relief operations and military campaigns.

Storage technology companies Moixa Technology, also from London, and Oxford’s PJH Partnership Ltd will join the delegation along with microgrid developer Each for All Productions, from Essex.

Faversham-based Flint Engineering will demonstrate its combined PV and solar thermal roofing and cladding material and, in the transport sector, two more firms from the capital will participate with Vantage Power showcasing its hybrid electric public transport system and Agility Global demonstrating its impressive electric urban sports motorbike.