You are in the awesome position of being our first Chancellor of the Exchequer who knows for sure that climate change is real, but also has the ability to address it.
Conservative support for renewable energy gave birth to the incredible solar industry we have today. You have helped more than 750,000 people put panels on their roofs, generating home grown electricity and limiting their exposure to future hikes in energy prices.
In the last three months renewable electricity made up a quarter of the UK’s electricity mix. And schools and communities are now engaging in where their energy comes from and setting up their own local supply. This makes so much sense both in economic and environmental terms.
Costs are falling rapidly and grid parity is just within our grasp, meaning the days when families have to choose whether to heat or to eat can end in our generation.
And by decentralising energy and creating a nation of ‘prosumers’ we can dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels that cannot be burnt if we want to keep global warming below two degrees. So far, so very good.
But over the summer, you announced that you are cancelling the green deal, selling the Green Investment Bank, dropping zero carbon homes, and pulling the feed in tariff. It is hard to interpret this as anything other than a rapid retreat from renewables.
The Feed-in Tariff consultation alone has rocked investor confidence and wiped out thousands of jobs, including my team at Trillion Fund. After three years of building a business from scratch this was simply devastating.
It makes no sense to cut so deeply and quickly when we are at the cusp of being able to stand on our own two feet and compete on a level playing field with other sources of energy as part of an integrated energy plan for the UK.
This current consultation is particularly ill-advised.
The assumptions are wrong, and the timescales are punitive: No small business can survive an 87 per cent cut in subsidy revenue with ten weeks notice. And the uncertainty it has created has destroyed investor confidence.
So here is my ask. If this particular renewable energy funding ‘pot’ is finite, then it must be carefully allocated with the goal of establishing two things:
- Firstly, it must forge a healthy renewable energy industry that can continue to drive down costs, and make the UK more energy independent.
- Secondly, it must also create a nation of people and businesses that have security over their energy supply and are protected from the rising costs of fossil fuels as capacity factors drop over the next five to ten years.
I will let industry experts correct the assumptions in The Department for Energy and Climate Change’s model and map out an alternative plan that better meets these goals.
But post-Levy Control Framework, we need a level playing field for energy, and we need transparency over the real costs of all our energy sources so that we can all work together to create a low-cost, secure and sustainable energy mix for the generations to come.
Julia Groves, Founder of The Trillion Fund and Chair of the UK Crowdfunding Association
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