The domestic renewables sector is split over the outcome of Dieter Helm’s forthcoming cost of energy review, with some dismissing its relevance to the industry.
Discussing the review at an industry event organised by FTI Consulting and Renewable UK last week, industry representatives not only questioned the review’s relevance having been published after the much wider Clean Growth Strategy, but also how impactful it is likely to be on government policy.
Dieter Helm is leading a review into whole system costs of energy in the UK, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The report will make recommendations to assure affordable energy without imposing additional costs while meeting climate change targets.
But Helm is a contentious lead for the project given his previous criticism of renewables for their cost and impact on the wider energy market. Other criticisms have also centred on the review’s concise scope and the time frame allocated for it.
Helm’s review is seen as part of a much wider conversation on the procurement system, competitive auctions and whole system costs but there is a split opinion in the renewable sector over the influence it will have in government policy.
One representative of the renewable energy sector said, “It’s important we remind ourselves that this [review] is largely the view of one expert and you could probably find another 15 experts with different opinions.”
There has been speculation in the renewables sector surrounding the report, one representative said, adding that there had been “gossip and paranoia” over the conclusions it might reach.
The impact of the review is under question given how the government’s Clean Growth Strategy was published earlier this month, setting future policy on renewables until 2022.
What role the report will play in future government policy is high on the agenda and the renewable sector is hopeful that the report will not derail recent optimism in the industry.
“It doesn’t mean this report will form government policy, this whole thing came out of a previous phase of the government… Whatever happens the report will inform part of the debate for the next six months or several years,” one representative said.
Other attendees considered the price drop should be considered in the report, but there is varied confidence over its direction.
“Frankly I think it is unlikely that he shifts that much, but about what renewables can do I understand that that has landed with him,” one attendee concluded.