The Conservative government is being “fundamentally dishonest” over its support for renewable energy and the reasoning behind subsidy cuts, Ecotricity founder Dale Vince has said.
In an interview with Solar Power Portal, Vince said that decisions to withdraw subsidies from renewable energies “made no sense” and accused the Conservative Party of making politically-motivated decisions on energy policy.
“When this government first came to power in their first term, they cut the subsidy for big solar saying they were doing it to save money in the pot for small solar but within three months they'd cut the money for small solar as well. This is a government that's fundamentally dishonest about why they do things against renewable energy,” Vince said
Vince also strongly condemned the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s decision last week to bring a premature end to onshore wind subsidy and said the government was “dressing up an ideological move against wind energy as an economic one”.
Secretary of State Amber Rudd said last week that the decision to end RO support for new onshore wind projects a year earlier than planned in 2016 was made because wind had been “more successful than people anticipated” and that withdrawing support would allow other technologies, including solar, to flourish.
However Vince contested Rudd’s decision, highlighting the onshore wind subsidy – which equates to approximately £10 per household per year – was considerably lower than the £30 billion in subsidies the IMF revealed Britain was spending for the fossil fuel industry, which works out at more than £1,000 per household per year.
“We've just handed 35-year contracts to the nuclear industry at twice the market rate for energy. That's a massive subsidy for two generations to come almost, so the idea we have to attack this £10 a year onshore wind cost is just bullshit. I don't think there's a neutral way to say it,” he said.
Vince added that the Conservative Party was being motivated by opinion in constituencies vital to its hopes of being re-elected. The party holds its heartland in rural areas of the country, where opposition to onshore wind farms has been at its strongest.
“I think the government's problem is they get kicked back in the parts of the country that vote Tory,” Vince said.
“It's a minority of people, but for them it's a majority of voters, so this government's moving against onshore wind because it hurts them in the constituencies out in the sticks, whereas solar rooftops and offshore wind hurt less. That's all it is, it's not logical and it's not what's best for Britain. It's what's best for the Tory party.”
Since announcing that it was to cut onshore wind subsidies early DECC has been on the defensive, issuing a number of statements to claim its decision was “appropriate” in order to “curtail further deployment of onshore wind, balancing the interests of onshore wind developers with those of the wider public”.