Renewable energy policy and the ballot box

Gordon Moran, writing for the European Energy Centre (EEC), examines recent political party conference pledges ahead of the 2015 general election

The result of the UK general election in 2015 will be significant for microgeneration and depending upon which party or parties form the next government, large-scale policy changes are likely to highly affect the sector.

Naturally, the positions differ between the main political parties. The Labour Party is supportive of renewables and has ambitious targets aiming for the decarbonisation of the power sector by 2030. The Liberal Democrats are generally supportive of renewables and are much more likely to be forming policy after the election as part of a coalition rather than as a single party of government. In turn, the Conservatives have broadly agreed to maintain levels of support for renewables’ subsidies from the previous government whilst in coalition, although this is uncertain if they win the next election outright. The least likely but most dramatic changes would result from smaller parties becoming part of a coalition government, such as the Green Party or UKIP.

A new UK government after the general election in 2015 may cause substantial revision of government policy and potentially more unexpected changes in regulation. Therefore it may well be most beneficial for the sector to focus on low risk, short term and simple funding options for microgeneration installations, to avoid the potential pitfalls of complex government schemes such as the Green Deal.

In spite of the changes that often come down the pipeline, the future seems to remain bright and real progress is being made in the UK to help households reduce their carbon emissions and tackle issues such as the cost of energy and security of supply.