Opinion

Changes to government schemes in the renewables sector

Gordon (EEC) 300dpi

Gordon Moran, writing for the European Energy Centre (EEC), explores alternative avenues available in light of changes to renewable energy schemes by the UK government

There has been a great deal of press recently about changes to levels of support for renewable energy with early closure of some subsidy programmes and reductions in others. Whilst this has meant reductions in support for certain schemes and types of technology, the effect has been varied across the renewable sector as a whole.

The main changes will be an early closure in the subsidy for onshore wind farms, reduction in level of support for solar PV installations and removing guaranteed levels of support for biomass. Whilst these proposals are now government policy, legal challenges may well alter these plans. In addition to this, the devolved parliament, assemblies and local governments across the UK have decision making abilities that can affect renewables policy on a regional level. For example, the Scottish Parliament has pledged to honour solar panel contract’s ‘grandfather’ clause, providing support that may not be available from the UK government in future. Such actions may pave the way for the Welsh or Northern Irish assemblies or local government throughout the UK to introduce their own schemes, opening up new avenues of funding.

Community energy initiatives and the renewable heat incentive schemes also still remain in place alongside energy efficiency measures such as the Affordable Warmth Obligation. Other technologies with significant growth potential are also receiving consistent levels of government support with subsidies remaining for offshore wind, and wave and tidal power continuing to receive investment.

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