The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has criticised Conservative plans to stop subsidising new onshore wind if successful in the 2015 election. 

Conservative energy minister, Michael Fallon, confirmed today rumours that the party will curtail the deployment of onshore wind by ceasing subsidies and changing the planning process if elected.

Fallon claimed that the UK currently has enough onshore projects in the pipeline “to meet our renewable energy commitments and there’s no requirement for any more”. 

At the same time, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has released a shale gas supply chain report which claims that shale gas has “huge potential economic benefits to the UK”.

Fallon added that shale gas “has the potential to kickstart a whole new industry…This government is fully committed to ensuring the UK not only benefits from the energy security shale gas could provide but also maximising the economic benefit across the country. It’s time to get ready for shale.”

The report forecasts that as much as 64,000 jobs could be created across the shale gas value chain. However, the REA counters that the renewable sector had more than 100,000 jobs across the value chain back in 2012 when it last carried out detailed analysis of employment in the sector.

REA head of public affairs, James Court, added: “This kind of nakedly political positioning from the Conservatives undermines all the positive work this government has put into renewables. The shale gas industry has government’s unwavering support, and yet according to its own figures its potential for jobs is less than the renewables industry already achieves in the UK.

DECC has also committed to providing £2 million of funding for projects that offer “innovative ideas” for producing or exploring for shale gas. Liberal Democrat energy minister, Ed Davey, said: “This £2 million funding we have announced shows our continuing commitment to remain at the forefront of new technology and techniques to efficiently and cleanly explore and produce shale gas.” But Davey warned that the benefits of shale should not come at the expense of the environment.

Court concluded: “Renewables are delivering today, while any potential benefits from shale gas are still some way off. Renewable energy is attracting investment, creating jobs, cutting costs, improving our energy security and preserving our environment. We urge the pragmatic wing of the Conservative party to resist this political game-playing and make their voices heard in the debate.”