As our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, began shaping her new cabinet last week, news came in thick and fast of high-profile sackings, resignations and reshuffles. While rumours circulated about the future of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the industry watched with baited breath.
For many, fears were confirmed on Thursday with the announcement that the DECC would indeed be axed.
Energy policy will now be in the hands of the newly-created Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, headed up by Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Clark commented that he was “thrilled” to have been appointed to lead the new department, which will be responsible for delivering “affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change” alongside industrial strategy, business relationships and furthering our science base.
But the announcement has caused a stir among green policy makers, campaigner’s and businesses, with many worried that the removal of climate change from specific governments is a downgrading of its status in Whitehall.
Former Labour Leader Ed Miliband tweeted calling the decision “just plain stupid”.
Comments from the Industry
So how will this affect the energy industry? Only time will tell, but here’s some of the comments and views that have come in so far:
Hugh McNeal, Chief Executive of Renewableuk, the UK’s leading not for profit renewable energy trade association said he looked forward to working supportively with Mr Clark “as we represent industries that can attract inward investment in the UK, and onshore wind offers the cheapest source of new power for Britain. Energy is the big ticket item in British infrastructure spending – the UK will invest over £20bn in wind energy in the next five years.”
For Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, the future could be bright for solar. Whilst he called the decision to close a department directly focused on the “critical issues of energy and climate change” a “great shame”, he further commented that “a joined up business, industrial strategy and energy approach could provide huge opportunities for solar in the UK, as can be seen in many countries across the world”.
Isaac Occhipinti, Head of External Affairs, Energy and Utilities Alliance said they are “disappointed” at the move “at a time when industry is looking to the Government for some certainty and continuity”. He went on to recognise the links between energy and industrial strategy saying he was looking forward to working with Clark on “decarbonising UK heat and exploring how green gas can help us meet our 2050 climate targets.”
Good Energy CEO Juliet Davenport said that in some ways “the name above the door of the civil service department doesn’t matter”, explaining that it was now more important for the government to “prove that climate change isn’t slipping down the agenda”, but Miliband disagreed with this, tweeting the department title matters “because depts shape priorities shape outcomes.”
Phil Hurley, Managing Director at renewable heating manufacturer NIBE, brands the surprise decision as “unsettling” and urged the renewable heating industry not to lose focus. He said the RHI had created a “welcome boost” to the industry and worried that the decision to abolish the DECC could “throw the industry into a renewed state of uncertainty”.
He went on to say: “It would be wrong to say that we at NIBE have no concerns about the potential implications of this for renewable heat in the UK – particularly as it comes during a pivotal RHI consultation period.
However, regardless of the political situation, the long-term cost- and energy-saving benefits of renewable heating technologies are inescapable.
The fact remains that the UK is legally bound by statute to honour its 2030 carbon reduction targets, and technologies like heat pumps will be integral to ensuring this happens.”
Here at Logic4training we hope that focus on climate change is maintained, and the take-up of renewables and Smart Meter roll out is not compromised. We will be keeping a close eye as the story unfolds.
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