Energy Ministers sparking controversy, media flurries over renewable energy; it’s all been a precursor to today, the launch of the Energy Bill.
The Energy Bill is a piece of upcoming government legislation that will overhaul the way that the UK generates its energy and meets its climate change targets. It will change the rules that govern the UK energy market and the incentives that encourage the building of more renewable energy sources. Those incentives are needed so that businesses, community groups and energy companies are encouraged to use more renewable energy, creating a demand for wind turbines, solar panels, tidal generators and other renewable sources built in the UK, investing up to £110 billion into the UK economy.
The UK is using more and more electricity. But many of our old power stations are reaching the end of their lives. We will need to invest £110 billion into the energy sector to make sure we’re able to generate enough to power our homes and businesses. How will we make up the difference? At Action for Renewables we want to see renewable energy make up as much of our energy mix as possible.
In May 2012, the government published its Draft Energy Bill proposals. They are the biggest overhaul of the UK electricity since privatization in the 1990’s. The main focus of the Draft Bill is on Electricity Market Reform (EMR). These are policies that aim to create the right conditions to attract the £110 billion of investment needed to secure our low-carbon power generation.
Why is it needed?
The energy market is complicated. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) believes that we need to change the way that the energy market works in order to do the following things.
• Create Energy Security
We depend on imported energy that is subject to price changes. Last year the wholesale cost of gas made up 50% of the average fuel bill. Producing more homegrown energy would protect us when prices rise dramatically, and mean more stable energy bills in the long term.
• Reduce carbon in the economy
The UK is legally bound to reduce the amount of carbon we emit. Renewable energy such as wind power, and solar power emit very little carbon, and by replacing traditional forms of generation such as gas or coal, we can reduce the amount of carbon the UK emits.
• Help the low carbon economy grow
A growing number of businesses and industries build, install and support wind turbines, solar panels and other forms of renewable energy. Increasing the amount of power we get from these sources will create more jobs, factories and investment, helping the UK economy at a time when it desperately needs it.
So what do we as green energy campaigners want?
Firstly, we want the Government to commit to decarbonise the electricity sector by 2030. Without a target to keep us on course we run the risk of empty gestures and falling back on outdated polluting fossil fuels. The UK has committed to reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050. Reducing carbon in the energy sector will play a crucial part in reducing harmful emissions, but 2050 is a long way away.
After 2020, the UK has no interim decarbonisation targets in place to ensure we are on course to meet the 2050 target. The Committee on Climate Change has called for a firm decarbonisation target for 2030 on the face of the Draft Bill. Action for Renewables supports these calls for a 2030 target to be legislated for, rather than just being something the Government is hoping to achieve.
Secondly, we want to ensure the government’s Energy Bill doesn't jeopardise our growing ability to generate electricity from renewable energy, and here’s where we have our gas-loving Chancellor in our sights. George Osborne has said that he wants most of the UK's electricity to come from gas.
While new efficient gas power will play its part in the UK’s immediate energy future, it must not be at the expense of our renewable energy sources, wind power, wave and tidal power and energy from the sun.
Lastly, we want the Government to make sure that the bill stays on track. You can’t build a renewable future when the government keeps moving the goalposts. The Energy Bill has many tight deadlines if it is to be made law in the next parliamentary session. The longer we wait the greater the risk of stalling our green economic growth. We want the Government to agree to keep the bill on track, and to consider extending the current rules if the bill is delayed. As our political representatives we need our MPs to show their support for renewable energy. Any new laws passed must work properly must not put our renewable future at a disadvantage. You can help by making sure that your MP helps to scrutinise the Energy Bill, checking that it is robust and fit for purpose, and doesn’t undermine the UK’s growing ability to generate green jobs and energy and you can find more information here on the website.
We’re starting out by asking David Cameron to stand up for renewable energy and agree to a 2030 carbon target, and we’ll have other campaign actions over the coming months. To send the Prime Minister a message, click here to visit our action page.