Speaking at the ninth annual British Renewable Energy Awards at the Savoy, Greg Barker, Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), told the audience that he wanted to leave everyone with ‘two very clear messages.’
The first is that the coalition remains ‘absolutely committed’ to an ‘ambitious rollout’ of renewables (in the most cost-effective way the government can manage), and the second is that tomorrow’s energy market must – and will – look very different.
‘Out goes an industry dominated by a few giant utilities; a monopoly of centralised energy models. In comes a new, diverse market, rich in innovation, driven by innovation, with an entrepreneurial, dynamic set of market participants’, he said.
Breaking down the barriers
Barker recognised that government policy must support the necessary shift as new actors, investors and technology appear. He said any barriers to entry must be broken down to open up the market to new players, ‘large and small’, rather than ‘stifling’ the industry with ‘suffocating legislation.’
‘No one in this room should doubt the coalition’s commitment to cost effective, value-for-money renewable energy, and at real scale’, he told the audience at the Savoy. ‘Ernst & Young in their latest global report rate the UK as one of the best places in the world to invest in renewables. Indeed, they rank the UK as the best place on the planet to invest in offshore wind and marine energy. Last year, against a backdrop of falling investment across the EU, the UK saw record highs, growing investment in renewables by 20%, outperforming the rest of Europe, including Germany, by a country mile.’
Barker highlighted last year’s Energy Act, which has put in place the framework for Electricity Market Reform. This reform, he claims, will deliver up to £100 billion of investment by 2020 and ‘ensure a historic shift to investment in renewables.’
DECC recently signed the first Final Investment Decision contracts, which Barker claims will bring forward £12 billion of investment, support 8,500 jobs and generate enough electricity for over three million homes.
Barker also acknowledged the increased uptake in solar PV, thanks to costs falling by over 60% over the last three years. ‘From a very small start in 2010, over a million people now go to sleep at night with a solar panel on their roof, which bursts into action as soon as the sun rises’, he said.
Over half a million solar installations are now in place, with close to 4GW of installed capacity. Still, Barker believes we have ‘only just scratched the surface of the potential for a host of distributed energy technologies.’