Industry reacts to Autumn Statement

Industry leaders have criticised George Osborne for failing to put renewable energy on the agenda in his Autumn Statement.

Despite the chancellor using his pre-budget report to announce the creation of a sovereign wealth fund for shale gas revenues, they were no measures announced to support the increased deployment of green technologies.

Silvio Spiess, CEO of Innasol, said that this glaring omission presents a huge injustice given the level of subsidy provided to large energy companies using traditional sources.

“The amount of money put aside for RHI is a fraction of the subsidies given to energy companies. If the government was genuinely serious about reaching carbon targets and fuel poverty, it would first and foremost be tackling the way we heat our homes and businesses. We were hoping to see an increased commitment to renewable energies and particularly renewable heat.”

Brian Smithers, strategic development director for Rexel, added: “The government have agreed a price of £92.50 for energy megawatt of energy produced by the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station – almost twice the current wholesale cost of electricity. There is no reason why it couldn’t have done a similar deal for renewables.

“Whilst solar and wind are not yet seen as competitive with coal and gas on a per kilowatt hour basis, they could be with the right investment.”

Tim Waterfield of Savills Energy argued that the Autumn Statement has created an information vacuum on renewable energy due to its failure to answer key questions on the UK’s future energy mix.

“There was a lot of rhetoric outlining the emphasis on clean, safe and secure energy supplies. However, beyond a focus on developing UK capability in shale gas, there is very little to note since last year’s Autumn Statement, in which scant detail was offered on the coalition’s carbon and energy security plans,” he said.

“This is particularly pertinent in the case of ground-mounted solar and onshore wind, which the government continues to downplay. Confidence in renewables is still high, but some policy softening is essential from the next government to fully position the field as a prime target for investment.”