The decision taken by just over half of the voting electorate to leave the European Union has sent shockwaves throughout the UK, among both the Leave and Remain camps.The dust will take a while to settle but reactions are likely to be flying in for some time on a day that has rocked the UK political and economic landscape.
While it failed to reach the top table of political debate during the campaign, the impact on renewable energy policy will no doubt be felt throughout the industry, with possible investors and consumers alike facing an uncertain future.
Solar Power Portal has captured a wide range of responses to Brexit throughout the day to the news:
Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group: “With serious environmental issues facing the world economy and with low carbon investment rapidly growing globally, it is in the UK’s economic and environmental interest to engage positively in international negotiations on climate change and other environmental issues and support the growth of its low carbon economy through national policy.
“Showing its commitment to the Climate Change Act by adopting the fifth carbon budget and a robust carbon plan to deliver it and making rapid progress on a 25 year plan to improve the state of the UK’s natural environment must now be essential priorities for the government.”
Dr Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association: "This result raises serious questions for investor certainty, energy security and much needed investment in the UK energy infrastructure.
"Energy policy must be a priority for the Government now, with industry needing reassurance and ministerial clarity on priorities.
"The vast majority of our members had fears of Brexit, and we will be consulting with them and government in the coming weeks to set out a plan for continued low carbon energy investment, deployment and assurance of the 117,000 jobs in this sector.
Martin Baxter, IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor: “The referendum vote in favour of the UK leaving the EU raises significant questions for businesses, professionals and the wider public on environmental protection policy.
“In the lead-up to the referendum, IEMA members were overwhelmingly of the view that being a member of the EU is good for business and good for the environment. There was a real concern that environment and climate policy risked being watered down if the vote was to leave. Environment and sustainability professionals will now look to the future with some sense of uncertainty.
“It is therefore essential that the government gives a commitment that, in negotiating the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, an equivalent or enhanced level of environmental protection and climate policy will be implemented here in the UK.
“In establishing the UK’s future direction, Government must develop progressive policies for the UK to transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and sustainable economy which delivers real social value over the long-term.”
Dustin Benson, head of energy and resources at Green Alliance: “I think we've got to be really careful about over-interpreting what the vote to leave means. The environment, climate change and energy weren't really on the agenda for the vote and the public didn't vote for a race to the bottom. I think they would want to see - based on all the previous opinion polling research - Britain continuing its low carbon journey. British climate change policy is popular and what we need from government is a plan to continue that outside of the EU.
I don't think there's any investor that's looking at the UK and smiling today. This is obviously a major upset, it wasn't expected by the investment community and it raises a whole host of new policy questions and uncertainties.
John Sauven, UK executive director of Greenpeace: “The climate change-denying wing of the Conservative Party will be strengthened by this vote for Brexit. That means the green movement, indeed every Briton who values a clean and safe environment, may need to stand up for nature in the face of an attack on the natural world.
"The environment barely featured in this campaign. Whoever comes to occupy Downing Street does not have a mandate to gut the environmental laws that we all rely on to protect us from pollution."
Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council: “Both economic and political uncertainty will have some people asking whether the green agenda needs to be deprioritised while business goes into firefighting mode. This must and need not happen.
“We will take the argument to Government that a low carbon, sustainable built environment is good for UK Plc, and that this requires a clear and consistent policy landscape - in or out of the EU.”
Spokesperson for the Solar Trade Association: “Despite this decision to leave the EU, the Solar Trade Association urges the UK government to maintain its 15% renewable target by 2020 and establish further targets thereafter in line with the Carbon Budgets and the UK’s 80% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2050.
“There will now be a lot of work to do to renegotiate various deals, laws and treaties in the energy field – not least the UK’s contribution within the Paris Agreement. We urge the UK to maintain its commitment to the transition to a zero carbon economy throughout this process.”
Alex Harrison, counsel at international law firm Hogan Lovells: “Is there going to be less new renewables work, less subsidies, less opportunity? I think almost certainly. The priority I think is going to be to look at the interconnector position and say 'do we suddenly need to build a whole new load of generation if we think the interconnector position may not be what we think it was going to be?'
“So I think the priority is going to be around gas rather than building new wind farms or new renewables of other kinds, which I wouldn't expect them to stop but they might end up getting delayed or the budgets being reduced. I think the priority is going to be keeping the lights on and the renewables will come firmly second to that.
“In terms of what might change tangibly, anything that's got a state aid component to it you might find the government feels it can be much more aggressive or comfortable in its own view around that. In the energy sector things like Hinckley which have difficulties around state aid will probably get easier because if you reach the conclusion that you're out anyway then you're not going to be bound by those rules, so what does it matter?”
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU): “Leaving the EU is likely to put an upwards pressure on energy bills, partly due to the direct financial costs of Brexit and also the impact of reduced investor confidence.
“Affordability and security of supply have been enhanced by our increasing gas and electricity connections with the EU. A choice for the government now is whether it wants to continue expanding those connections and hence the benefits to hard-working British families, or to shut up shop.
“On climate change there has been speculation that an independent UK would scrap measures to tackle the problem. These measures are mostly enshrined in British law, however, and it seems likely that the strong cross-party majority in favour of reducing emissions in both Houses of Parliament would seek to defend them."
Jonathan Grant, director, PwC sustainability and climate change: “Today’s outcome is a major setback for the type of collaboration needed to tackle global environmental issues like climate change.
“The UK government has been a champion of climate action at home, within the EU, and in the Paris climate talks. However this leadership is at risk, with many supporters of Brexit also opposed to climate policies such as carbon taxes and efficiency standards. The immediate priority will be to provide reassurance to investors to avoid undermining the low carbon sector.
“Any further uncertainty will unsettle the carbon market, with the price of EU carbon credits already falling sharply when trading opened this morning.”