Current affairs

Bill Wright, head of energy solutions at The Electrical Contractors’ Association, finds a glimmer of hope from the Treasury amid deep spending cuts on renewables

George Orwell’s term ‘doublespeak’ – where you say one thing and mean the opposite – appears have been adopted by the government. On the one hand Amber Rudd has announced plans to cut all subsidies available for renewables and on the other the Treasury is looking to create an enhanced role for ESOS.

At the start of October, Ms Rudd announced major cuts to FiTs and claimed that by doing so she is encouraging the industry to stand on its own two feet.

Sadly that isn’t the case. Incentives are still crucial in getting consumers to invest in microgeneration technology and cutting them looks likely to kill the domestic market for new solar PV. The commercial market won’t be so affected but it will depend on firms having enlightened attitudes to the technology and being able to look beyond the cost of the initial investment. Even more worryingly, the sudden, drastic cuts proposed to FiTs will mean there will be serious job losses, and the investment the government has made in training and building an infrastructure for this industry will disappear.

But all is not entirely lost. A consultation published by the Treasury at the start of October proposed reforming the Business Energy Efficiency Tax, and suggested that all the various data reporting regulations were consolidated into one area. Better yet, it plans to put ESOS at the heart of any new incentives on energy efficiency, which is good news as it has suffered as a stand-alone programme and will benefit from being part of a wider energy efficiency initiative.