UK Urged to Increase Renewable Energy Spending

A coalition of local leaders has been joined by Siemens and EDF to lobby Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, to pledge a further £5bn towards green energy and efficiency.

This would be done by unlocking investment in the private sector, in turn returning a net to the tune of £100bn to support the British economy. A potential £40bn could be added for energy efficiency – this would exceed the £9.2bn promised target in the Conservative party’s manifesto.

Theoretically, more than 300,000 jobs would be created from this investment and it would support all parts of the country. The lobbyists said it would help “build back better.”

Recently, a research report was sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK100, EDF and Siemens. It was presented at a meeting on Monday 13 July to Kwasi Kwarteng, the Energy Minister.

UK100 launched a separate study, as part of a resilient recovery taskforce. This showed that an estimated 3.1 million jobs will require access to skills and training from government and industry as part of the green recovery. UK100 consists of a network of over 100 mayors and local leaders from across the country.

Polly Billington, UK100 director, said: “If ministers are to meet their manifesto promise on energy efficiency in our homes, which are some of the leakiest in Europe, they need to kickstart a renewable revolution. This would help hard-pressed consumers save on their fuel bills, support hundreds of thousands of jobs and protect the environment.

“£5bn now would unlock £100bn to rescue the UK economy and deliver on the Prime Minister’s ambitions of levelling up and meeting Net Zero. The Chancellor’s statement, while welcome, should have had far more front-loaded investment.”

Carl Ennis, Siemens UK chief executive, said: “There is an urgent need to scale up local, sustainable, energy if the UK is to have any chance of meeting Net Zero by 2050.

“This requires a collective national effort with government, business and the public all playing our part. Local energy should be at the heart of the National Infrastructure Strategy creating a more consistent policy landscape that will give investors the confidence to invest earlier.”

A partnership study by UK100 and Siemens UK argues that a more “balanced energy system” will be required with the right mix of local decentralised energy systems alongside large scale generation. Under the proposals, energy consumers and members of the public would become generators themselves. These moves would ultimately help customers save money on gas and electricity.

These local energy projects include onshore wind and solar power, biomass, retrofitting homes, electric vehicle (EV) charging and smart grids.

An establishment of a net zero development bank has been called for by the group. This would bring together government financing in one place to start the transition to net zero and kickstart local energy schemes. Currently, local energy initiatives aren’t attractive enough for private investment as they are at too early a stage.

The bank would provide a single point for government support and replace lost funding from the European Union through a more stable regulated regime. The report is the conclusion of an 18-month programme of five workshops held across England. These took place in Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Leicester and Manchester.

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