Renewables sector responds to Spending Review

Renewable energy groups have welcomed the Government’s commitment to renewable heat, in the wake of the Spending Review.

The Chancellor surprised many yesterday by announcing he would increase funding for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to £1.15 billion by 2020-21 – a programme many thought would be scrapped.

The Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), Dr. Nina Skorupska, welcomed the government’s commitment to renewable heat and said she was “pleased they have listened to industry and our members”.

“Our members recognised the need to make savings and presented to Treasury and DECC how we could optimise the RHI budget. A £700m cut is large, but we look forward to working with the government on reforming this crucial area,” added Dr Skorupska.

“We still have a large challenge in hitting our renewable heat targets, and the RHI alone won’t achieve it, heat networks, energy efficiency and Green Gas still have a large part to play.”

The Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), Charlotte Morton, also welcomed the Government’s commitments around renewable hat.

“Making RHI funding available for new projects to 2020/21 will clearly help support our industry’s ambition,” said Ms Morton.

“The Chancellor’s decision to delay significant growth within the RHI budget next year, however, leaves uncertainty around the level of funding which will be available for new projects in 2016.  It’s challenging for any industry to endure a period of hiatus where jobs and investment are put on hold – or even at risk – as businesses wait for government policy to catch up with growth capability.”

But the Solar Trade Association (STA) said it was disappointed with the Spending Review, and highlighted the news that the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s core budget will be cut by 22% by 2019-20.

“Energy policy is a highly technical and complex policy area where in-depth analysis of every sector is needed in order to avoid costly errors,” said STA Chief Executive, Paul Barwell.

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues