LibLink: Ed Davey: The Tories are trying to kill off our renewable energy boom

Former Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has condemned the way that the Conservatives governing alone are trashing all he did to create a boom in clean, planet-saving renewable energy:

My experience as energy and climate change secretary – in the months I spent battling George Osborne over the budget for investment in low carbon, and in the daily attrition with Eric Pickles over onshore wind – was that many Conservatives simply regard their commitment to climate change action as something they had to say to get into power. With some honourable exceptions, most Conservatives I worked with seemed to view Lib Dem green energy policies as part of the political price they paid for the coalition.

Happily, the Conservatives cannot undo much of what the coalition achieved: from the trebling of the UK’s renewable power capacity to the 27 contracts I signed in March for more renewable power plants to be built over the next few years, the Lib Dems’ green legacy stands. I have heard that the chancellor has asked if he can get out of the contracts I signed. But he can’t. So I’m looking forward to Conservative ministers opening onshore and offshore wind farms that I commissioned.

But the bad news is the Conservatives are failing dramatically to build on the green opportunity we helped create: of tumbling prices for wind and solar power, of a world-beating offshore wind industry, and of the world’s first ever low-carbon power market.

Tory policy announcements since May have caused the UK’s renewable energy investment to collapse, large numbers of green firms and jobs destroyed, and our international leadership role on climate change trashed.

He also rebuts the Tory attacks on the Lib Dem approach. You can read the whole article here.

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  • John Barrett 25th Oct '15 - 12:24pm

    The ‘subsidy’ or support from the Government now being offered to the nuclear industry at Hinkley Point, which was supported by both Ed, Nick and the Conservatives, is more than would be required to support and develop a growing renewable energy industry, and to ensure the country had a safe, cost effective and clean energy supply for many decades into the future.

  • nigel hunter 26th Oct '15 - 12:16am

    What do we want Cheap electricity that appears when the Chinese, French reactor comes on stream,who knows when .Equally who will build it FRENCH, CHINESE, BRITS? In the 50s we built our own nuclear stations. Are we to loose out and have to rely on foreign scientists ? Ok its cheap? its still dangerous stuff look at chernabyl, fukashima will there be fracking in its area? No, we should learn and develop our own renewable industries to generate jobs for Brits. .

  • nigel hunter 26th Oct '15 - 8:41am

    Osborne is financing it with £2billion. What happened to reducing the deficit, they can find money if they want to (by cutting services that we ALL rely on) Austerity does not build things to develop a country both economically and giving a country pride in itself.

  • It is interesting to note that the proposed Bristol Channel Tidal barrage is right next door to Hinckley C.
    Those investing in the project claim the cost of building it and the amount of electricity it would generate is competitive with Hinckley C., that is not taking into account the decommissioning costs of a nuclear power plant.
    Why has not more been made of this project and why are we not building it today, instead of Hinckley C ?
    I am not antinuclear power, but I do not think that building these immense cathedrals to nuclear fission technology is the most cost effective way to develop a 21st century nuclear industry.

  • A tidal wave of industrial clutter is disfiguring our countryside like some kind of deadly contagion, all in the name of “green” energy. Now, someone please tell me what is “green” about covering farmland with row upon row of solar panel racks? What was once green grass that supported cattle and sheep has now been replaced by metal and glass. Not exactly “green”, is it? Clearly, landowners are making a fortune out of this. They don’t have to farm the land. They just sit back and take the cash from the “green” energy barons. I have seen solar farms in Hampshire and Dorset that are having a horrendous impact on the landscape. The view from Hambledon Hill to Melbury Hill has already been spoiled, as has the view from Danebury Hillfort towards Andover. And in just the last few weeks, permission has been given for two more of these monstrosities close to the iconic River Test, which has been protected from most kinds of development up until now. How much of our countryside has to be covered in metal and glass before we decide that enough is enough?

  • Denis Mollison 26th Oct '15 - 11:17pm

    Sesenco – “How much of our countryside has to be covered in metal and glass before we decide that enough is enough?”

    Enough to cope with our energy needs without causing catastrophic climate change?

    Colin Megson – ” electricity generated by Hinkley works out at £0.016/kWh”

    If that’s true, why is the government guarnateeing the operators a price of £0.0925/kWh, nearly six times as much?

    That makes wind energy at £0.047/kWh (your figure) look cheap!

  • @Denis Mollison – re: Cost of nuclear v wind
    The reason for the difference is the cost of money!
    See my comment here:

  • Denis Mollison 27th Oct '15 - 1:55pm

    I well understand that, but given the huge difference it was very misleading of Sesenco to suggest that the figure of 1.6 p/kWh was a fair representation of the cost of nuclear electricity.

  • @Denis – I think you were actually referring to Colin Megson’s comment.

    From my reading and this article I’ve managed to put my hands on: , I would suggest that Colin is confusing pure production costs with lifetime costs. Because nuclear production costs are very similar to those for coal.

    As for the true lifetime and production costs for wind, I’ve not come across any reliable data, largely because firstly the (private) operators refuse to disclose “commercially sensitive” information (an FoI won’t help you here) and secondly because subsidies are being paid on total installed capacity and not purely on MWh’s sold.

    I think the government was and is right to curtail the subsidies being paid to wind farm operators. Near me a wind farm is being built, the primary reason the planning inspector gave for granting planning permission for this scheme was “the turbines would introduce a “modern element” to the area”! No mention on whether the wind farm would actually deliver anything useful like electricity – which is unlikely as all the turbines are within a dip in sheltered valley (the turbine house is only slightly above the surrounding hill tops!).

  • Denis Mollison wrote:

    “Sesenco – “How much of our countryside has to be covered in metal and glass before we decide that enough is enough?”

    Enough to cope with our energy needs without causing catastrophic climate change?”

    I will pose the following questions (and I apologise if they read more like statements):

    (1) How many wind turbines and how many solar panels are required to generate enough electricity to cope with our energy needs without causing catastrophic climate change?

    (2) How should we generate electricity during those periods when there is no wind and the sun is obstructed by cloud or is unobstructed but weak?

    (3) Optimum conditions for solar panels are surely to be found in deserts, where the sun shines almost every day and there are few residents whose views would be spoiled. The United States has thousands of square miles of desert, much of which is owned by the Federal Government. Why does the US Government not pack its deserts with solar panels and generate cheap, non-pollutant energy for everyone?

    I have no objection to wind turbines being erected in the shallow North Sea, where they harm no-one. Similarly, I would not object to solar panels being laid end-to-end across the Sahara. What I do object to is the spoiling of our precious landscapes with metal and glass.

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