REA nervously awaits Gas Strategy

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) is keen to see that the government’s Gas Strategy, which is due to be published later today, is not detrimental to the role of renewables.

Chancellor George Osborne is widely understood to be considering handing generous tax breaks for shale gas exploration as part of his strategy to use newly built gas-fired power stations to meet the energy generation gap which is predicted to occur before the end of the decade.

The REA and others in the industry are concerned that a large future role for gas will see the UK miss legally binding carbon reduction targets and push green energy generation into a minor role.

REA Chairman Martin Wright said: “The IEA and the World Bank are sounding the alarm that we need to transform our energy systems urgently to avoid a temperature rise of four degrees. It will be ironic if the Chancellor fires the starting gun on a second ‘dash for gas’ – controversially shale gas at that – even as his colleagues scrabble for progress in Doha.

“There should be no question of a conflict between gas and renewables. Gas could complement the growth of renewables, but a massive expansion will jeopardize climate change objectives. It is significant that last week the Energy Bill was announced by DECC, whereas it is the Chancellor who is announcing the Gas Strategy. When taken with the failure to set a carbon reduction target in the Bill, and an Emissions Performance Standard for gas that fails to bite until 2045, it appears that central Government is prioritising fossil fuels over renewables.”

Last week a report by WWF and Greenpeace showed that an expansion of the offshore wind sector, as opposed to investing in gas fired electricity generating capacity, would create up to 70,000 jobs by 2030 and add £20bn to GDP. The country would also benefit from saving £8bn a year which is currently spent on importing gas.