David Cockayne, Managing Director of Oakapple Renewable Energy Ltd, puts forward his reaction to the Government’s consultation response which also followed the recent COP21 conference in Paris.
David Cockayne comments;
“With the COP21 conference drawing to a positive conclusion in December, the renewables industry might have hoped that our Government would have considered a positive response to their consultation; greater continued support for the deployment of solar PV, a helping hand to support the Paris agreement and fight climate change would have been appropriate.
Sadly, the Government has now confirmed their stance of prioritising “energy security” and “protecting the consumer” by enforcing the FiT cuts which will go ahead on January 15th, when a pause will come into effect to take us through to new heavily cut tariffs from the 8th February, although not as aggressively as initially planned; a small consolation for a hard pressed industry that the STA anticipate will shed up to 25,000 jobs as a direct result.
Whilst no one would deny that energy security is crucial, it’s obvious that in order for the UK to fulfil their pledge to accelerate CO2 emission reductions well beyond our current rate, renewable energy has to play the leading role.
The creation of the Global Solar Council at the COP21 conference was a step in the right direction, but what influence it will have on our Government, present and future, is yet to be seen.
The main success of COP21 was to consolidate opinion as to the extent and mechanisms of climate change. We did not hear many voices denying that climate change is real! It’s happening right now. Whilst the World’s leaders may have arrived late to the party, collectively we still have time to make a difference and it’s the thousands of businesses up and down our Country that must lead the fight.
There are two commercial reasons why businesses should be mindful of their renewable opportunities:
- We are seeing an increasingly short supply of generation capacity within the UK, which we see as the Grid purchasing emergency power supplies. Any business looking at the cost of not having power will need to assess the options of going off-grid during these down times.
- The statutory target levels of CO2 emissions still remain, despite the reduction in Government support. We witnessed the introduction of ESOS reporting this year and with it the mechanism that a Government could enforce mandatory reductions in energy consumption in order to achieve the statutory limits.
Both reasons argue for businesses to install renewable energy sources, in addition to the increasing demands of society and our customers to “go green”.
Forward planning businesses will be looking at what they can do to get ahead of the competition, either before the grid runs out of power, or before the heavy weight of Government forces the issue. In terms of PV, the number of commercial installations is negligible compared to the opportunity and the argument for deployment is getting stronger. For those who can afford their own installation the buy out-right allows owners to take advantage of the last Government support. For those who prefer to rent there are funded or Power Purchase Agreements that can fund an installation and still provide the occupier with the benefit of solar energy. Larger installations can still provide a reasonable return, despite the drop in support.
The baton has been passed from politicians at COP21 to business. We now have certainty in understanding the available support and it is up to those organisations that want to secure their own future and respond to the growing public demand for green business to secure the 1.5