Ed Davey MP writes…An Autumn Statement for more green energy and more help to keep energy bills down.

Liberal Democrats in Government already have a record of green energy delivery to be proud of.  Renewable electricity generation and investment have both more than doubled since 2010 and our reforms will create 250,000 low carbon jobs by the end of the decade.  Britain is ranked No.1 in the world for offshore wind investment, onshore wind now produces around 5% of the UK’s electricity and solar generating capacity increased by 60% last year.

But is that where the story ends?  No, and our ambition outlined in the Autumn Statement proves it.  The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project is something I asked my Department to look into some time ago.  We’ve now announced the initial talks we’ve had with the Swansea team will be stepped up a gear and it’s possible formal negotiations could start as early as next month.

If this project gets the go ahead then we would see the world’s first tidal lagoon project at Swansea, which could be generating green power by the end of the decade.  The potential for tidal lagoon power in the UK is huge.  It could eventually provide us with 8% of our electricity needs, and what’s being talked about at Swansea would provide reliable green energy for over 100 years.  The project is being supported by green NGOs including Friends of the Earth, RSPB and Greenpeace.

Additional help for those living in fuel poverty is also something that I and many Lib Dem MPs have been pushing for a long time.  This government decided it was time for a new way to measure and address fuel poverty.  Changing how we measure it made complete sense as without a meaningful benchmark then how do you begin to identify where fuel poverty exists and target people with the support they need?  The point is well made by the measure we inherited from the Labour Government.  It was so wide of the mark that it even included the Queen!

The analysis we’ve already done has revealed that large pockets of fuel poverty exist where households are off the gas grid, ie not able to enjoy the normal supply of gas that the vast majority of us take for granted.  Many of the households do of course use alternative forms of heating like electric or oil.  The problem is that both these forms of heating tend to be more expensive than gas.  That’s why it’s great news to see the help that Liberal Democrats have pushed for being recognised in the Autumn Statement.  A new £25 million pot will help households cut their bills, for example by installing central heating systems which could save them about £400 a year.

The Autumn Statement also confirmed the £100m of new money for the Green Deal Home Improvement Plan I announced at this year’s Lib Dem Conference.  I will announce the full details of this scheme in the next few days, but I’m giving away no secrets when I say the design will be very similar to the last extremely popular scheme, providing money – not loans – that go towards the installation of a range of energy efficiency measures that will help people cut their energy bills for good and save carbon.

Liberal  Democrat Ministers have delivered green policies galore in this government, but the Autumn Statement proves we’re not done yet.

* Ed Davey is the MP for Kingston & Surbiton and Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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  • Eddie Sammon 4th Dec '14 - 7:51pm

    Ed Davey, the title of this article is political perfection. The details also show a credible plan for reducing bills by helping people “off the grid” and expanding renewable energy through a new green deal.

    I would say though that the government should be careful not to pay for lower energy bills with higher taxes.

  • It doesn't add up... 4th Dec '14 - 8:07pm

    So we’re taking £305/MWh in 2012 money plus inflation for this Swansea folly according to the published CFD prices? Twice as much as even offshore windmills? That should keep energy bills rising nicely. Or perhaps you believe that they will fall, since no-one will be able to afford energy any more?

  • >A new £25 million pot will help households cut their bills,
    Fiddly small change!
    This pot can be very simply enlarged in two ways: firstly scrap the SME Business Broadband Voucher Scheme, that immediately will free up approximately £92.5m of the original funding that hasn’t been spent plus the £40m of new funding committed earlier this month.

    Alternatively, simply scrap the smartmeter roll-out, which has been delayed once again, freeing up £11bn of monies accrued through levies on consumer’s energy bills. Some of this money (£2~3bn) can then be redirected into the building of a UK-based solar panel (both voltaic and thermal) manufacturing industry (I’m sure a favourable deal can be done with 1~2 of the Non-mainland China south-east Asian manufacturers who are looking at the EU market), who output can be used to provide solar panels for UK roofs and for export to other EU countries.

    >for example by installing central heating systems which could save them about £400 a year.
    Sorry ‘could’ isn’t good enough, especially for those on low incomes.

  • Those interested in learning more about the delayed smart meter roll out and DECC’s desire to avoid public scrutiny, I suggest reading this article: http://www.nickhunn.com/uk-smart-meters-delayed-again/

  • Jenny Barnes 5th Dec '14 - 9:12am

    8% of UK electricity typical demand is 3.2 Gw, equivalent to one of the new nuclear power stations planned. The max output of a full scale Severn Barrage, last time I looked, was 8Gw, and the effective delivery was around 25%, so that’s about 2GW equivalent. The swansea barrage is alleged to be capable of powering 120,000 homes http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-26079798. Now, the “home” in renewable energy speak is 0.5 kW. So that’s 60 MW. Which is 0.15% of the UK’s typical electricity demand.
    Where is the other 7.85 % of tidal lagoon power coming from?

  • How does this compare with the SNPs record in Scotland, are they doing better or worse at renewables?

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