The UK “must be tough on subsidies” if it is to meet its renewable energy targets whilst also protecting consumers, energy secretary Amber Rudd has claimed.
Rudd took to the stage at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Monday afternoon to discuss her party’s energy policy and made consumers a central theme, stating that they would “be at the heart of energy and climate policy”.
She said that while moving to a low carbon economy was “key” to the country’s economic and environmental prospects, proposed cuts to the small-scale feed-in tariff and other subsidy programmes had been “motivated by a need to get the balance right” between supporting renewable energies and consumer costs.
The energy secretary also said that adoption of renewable energy could not be conducted “at any cost” and repeated a previous assertion that there is “no magical money tree” for the renewables industry.
“Some have characterised these [subsidy] changes as motivated by ideological opposition to anything green [but] nothing could be further from the truth.
“With solar costs continuing to fall and new innovations in battery storage, renewable energy can stand on its own two feet.
“I support cutting subsidies not because I am an anti-green Conservative, but because I am a proud green Conservative, on the side of the consumer,” Rudd said.
Rudd’s speech is likely to stick in the craw for those within the renewables sector considering the highly contentious deal struck for the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor. At £92.50/MWh Hinkley’s strike price is more expensive than both solar and onshore wind, and the estimated £35 billion cost of the project has been lambasted by rival politicians and lords alike.
Earlier today the shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy said that Rudd “desperately needs to re-set the government’s approach” to energy and climate change and called on her to announce replacements for those support schemes cut in recent weeks, echoing similar calls made by the Committee on Climate Change’s Lord Deben.
However no announcements were forthcoming and Rudd attacked Labour’s energy policy as “riven with gimmickry”, adding that it was serving as a “distraction” from the threat of climate change.