Former energy minister calls for ‘sensible middle ground’ in renewables debate

A new report published today has stressed the important role that renewables must play in the UK’s transition to low carbon energy supply.

The report compiled by the think tank Carbon Connect and chaired by former energy minister Charles Hendry and shadow energy minister Baroness Worthington, is the result of a year-long inquiry into the UK’s power sector.

The paper calls on government to work with the renewables industry to help narrow the scope of debate by identifying ‘low regret’ investments for the power sector beyond 2020. In addition, policies must be in place to significantly incentivise the ‘low regret’ investments.  

The authors argue that that such an approach would help provide clarity in the long-term to both investors and industry – securing the supply chain investments that could give the UK a ‘head-start in the global race’.

The report also finds that increasing support for renewables could have a number of hidden benefits for consumers’ electricity bills. The study predicts that the increased use of renewables will help alleviate bill increases driven by fossil fuels, enhance bill predictability and have a number of macro-economic benefits.  

Critics of renewables point to challenges associated with security of supply, however, the inquiry states that the debate should be shifted to the whole electricity system, with individual technologies considered on how they help to reduce system risks. The report also concludes that backing up intermittent renewables such as solar is a ‘manageable challenge’ using existing and developing technology options.

Hendry hailed the report as an “invaluable resource” that will help shed light on the energy challenges facing the UK. Baroness Worthington added: “Despite the rhetoric in the media there is a sensible middle ground occupied by members of all parties and this report speaks from that position". 

The report, Power from Renewables, can be viewed here.