Although the government promised more funds to spur the uptake of electric vehicles as well as announcing it wants to "tackle the scourge of plastic" in today's Autumn Budget, environment groups were disappointed by a lack of ambition for renewable energy.
The Budget confirmed there would be no fresh funds for new renewable energy projects levied through electricity bills until 2025 to help keep energy costs down.
It said: "In order to protect consumers, the government will not introduce new low carbon electricity levies until the burden of [energy] costs are falling. On the basis of the current forecast, this means there will be no new low carbon electricity levies until 2025. All existing commitments will be respected."
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) said it welcomes the move to a subsidy-free future, but the industry needs urgent clarity on how the government is planning to bring new projects forward, especially for less developed technologies like tidal and advanced waste-to-energy.
The group also called for clarity around carbon pricing after the government offered little detail on the future of the country's tax on carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. The government said it was confident the carbon price, currently £18 per tonne, was set at the right price.
“The UK government seem to be turning their back on renewables by announcing no new support for projects post 2020 and a freeze on carbon taxes. This could see a hiatus in much needed infrastructure development. Considering this is coming only a couple of months after the much vaunted Clean Growth Plan, it’s hugely disappointing," said James Court, head of policy and external affairs at the REA.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said the government's "lack of ambition" to build on recent progress in clean energy seemed at odds with the Clean Growth Strategy announced last month.
“Postponing further support for renewables until 2025 denies the opportunity for other technologies and projects to follow suit and prevents taxpayers from reaping the benefits of the cost reductions their funding has made possible.”
Nick Molho, executive director of the environmental policy group Aldersgate, said:
To reduce power sector emissions cost-effectively and continue to grow renewable energy supply chains, the UK needs a policy environment that allows it to deploy mature low-carbon technologies such as onshore wind without subsidy, increase its ambition on offshore wind in the 2020s and keep the door open to improvements in new technologies.
The announcement that there will be no new low carbon electricity levies until 2025 mustn’t get in the way of that.