Setting up camp in the policy battlefield

One camp argues that because the wholesale cost of fossil fuels is only ever going to rise in the long term, we should channel all our resources into alternative streams of energy. Another argues that fossil fuels provide a far more economical solution for today’s needs and should be prioritised above renewables, with all subsidy for the latter taken off the table. A third group sits somewhere in the middle, focused on creating a market that responds to both financial and environmental concerns.

I would argue the case for this third group. The context provided by the UK’s slowly changing sustainable landscape has proven time and again that the central thread has got to be one of steady and consistent progress. Knee-jerk reactions either towards or against renewable power only serves to hamper development as investors shy away from committing to a nation that doesn’t appear to know how to commit itself.

This week, George Osborne announced his intentions to drop certain green levies, distancing the government from involvement in some areas of the sector. This may appear to be letting the cards fall where they may, and there have been several vocal opponents to the move; Nick Clegg has weighed in with a view that the short-term monetary benefit for the end user will soon be outweighed by the loss of investment in infrastructure and proper insulation for those living in fuel poverty.

This tug-of-war is a perfect demonstration of the core problem here: one party puts one policy in place, another takes it away before it is reintroduced under a slightly different name only to be removed once more. Fundamentally, this is a simple issue with a simple solution. Instead of fighting amongst themselves, policy makers need to take a look around and appreciate that every promise that they make only to renege on at a later stage is hugely damaging to the future fortunes of the UK, in terms of both finance and sustainability. If Osborne intends to revert to more of a free market under the right conditions, then the most important point is that the changes made are left alone; this is the only way through which industries so critically affected by the presence or absence of legislation can build strategy that can be relied upon for years rather than months.

Follow Peter Rolton on Twitter:

Previous articleIs SolarCity the Next Amazon of Solar?
Next articleAsia Report: Four Reasons Why Solar Can Unseat Coal in India This Decade
As Chairman of the Rolton Group, Peter provides high-level strategic advice to a range of governmental, public sector and commercial clients. He is an acknowledged specialist in the renewable energy sector, and there is good reason for this: when it comes to energy, Peter is clear about the issues we face and the need for a cohesive strategy to tackle them. He is a passionate advocate of informed debate, and has consistently brought clarity to this complex situation."If the UK is united on one thing about energy it is that, on an individual basis, the public knows what it’s not in favour of. When it comes to offering up solutions, it’s not that confident. Pointing at single solutions like wind farms and saying that they are too expensive is missing the point. Carbon-based forms of energy like oil and gas are running out. Energy is going to be more expensive and a portfolio of renewable energies will necessarily be part of our solution in the future." Peter holds particular expertise in the areas of site-wide energy planning, zero carbon power generation, low carbon design, carbon offsetting and the application of renewable technology. He has acted as a Government advisor on numerous consultations and white papers, presenting to the Secretary of State on a number of occasions on the subject of renewable planning and public sector engagement. He has worked as a strategic partner with some of the world’s largest and most successful blue-chip companies, and is a Director of Renewables East, the renewable energy agency for the east of England.Peter is both a chartered building services engineer and a chartered member of the Institute of Energy, and has gained accreditation under the Carbon Trust Consultant Accreditation Scheme for solution development, with particular expertise in the establishment of energy strategies. He founded his first business, Rolton Services Consultants Limited, in 1989, and founded Cool Planet Technologies, a specialist renewable energy delivery partner which was sold to British Gas in 2010. He has been the architect of the path through which Rolton Group has addressed the challenges of renewables, carbon and the built environment."We need to see the bigger picture and not become hung up on individual technologies and individual costs. We need a completely different technology mix and not a reliance on one form of energy supply. We need all forms of technology to be applied – and we need it to happen quickly."

No posts to display