Say goodbye to the solar industry in the UK. After government cuts to valuable subsidies, the industry itself estimates that up-to 30,000 jobs could go in the first six months of 2016. In line with George Osbourne’s obsession for cutting everything that doesn’t matter to him, including ‘all that green crap’, we could be witnessing the end of renewable investment in this country for the foreseeable future.
It’s no longer good for businesses who, before the DECC became as confused about it’s policies as Bob Dudley at a wind turbine convention, were steadily coming round to the importance of getting on board the renewable gravy train. Wind has suffered, solar is set to be almost decimated, and major projects such as the tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay are set to be put on hold indefinitely.
Perhaps the only real conclusion to be drawn is that the Government is in bed with the oil companies and have private interests in promoting fracking and fossil fuel development. Strange that David Cameron had the cheek to stand at the recent COP21 Climate Change Summit and tell the world that “If something can be done, it must be done!”
We are also set to become the major laughing stock of the climate change agenda, with a government that says one thing to the television cameras and then does the opposite in reality. They may well say they are providing the framework for renewables to stand on their own, but they’re not. They’re decimating the future industry and the future of our children because they either don’t care or they are simply fulfilling a more sinister hidden agenda.
Let’s Play ‘Keep it in the Family’
Is the Government Criminal in its treatment of renewables? There are some that would say so. The Deputy Leader of the House of Lords and Tory Foreign Office Minister, David Howell, runs a lobbying group called the Windsor Energy Group. This is heavily sponsored by companies such as Shell, British Gas, BP, and Marathon Oil. George Osbourne is actually David Howell’s son-in-law (small world ain’t it?) and good old George has just announced a big tax cut to promote better fracking. This tax cut will benefit certain companies such as, you guessed it, Shell, British Gas, BP, and Marathon Oil.
The Ravaging of Renewables
Last September the UK dropped out of the top 10 renewable energy rankings for the first time and if things go on the way they are, we’ll likely end up down there at the bottom. Since winning a majority, the Conservatives have managed to destroy off-shore wind, cripple the solar industry, set back biomass uptake, kill off the green deal, sell of the green investment bank, and greatly reduce any incentive to even think about buying a green car. On top of that they’ve given up on the idea of zero carbon homes and decided to start fracking in sites of natural beauty, against a majority public opinion.
What does that leave? There are plenty of rumours that the flagship tidal lagoon in Swansea is going to get the axe sooner rather than later and we all know that billions are set to be spent on a spurious nuclear power plant that’s not even going to be owned by us.
Back in July, environmentalist Jonathon Porritt wrote about the ‘slow’ death of renewables in the UK. But most of this destruction has taken place in a pretty short space of time, since the election last May in fact. It’s strange when you consider the renewables industry were working hard to achieving life without subsidies, hopefully by 2020 when the real benefits would start to come through. All they asked was that they had those subsidies in place while they needed them. Pulling the carpet from beneath their feet in this way has not only been political stupidity it is going to take a long while to repair in order to make businesses confident enough to invest again.
So why would you cut subsidies so sharply and so quickly?
There’s no doubt that many in the industry are putting the blame for the demise of the renewables industry firmly at the feet of George Osborne, not simply because of his strong familial connection to the fossil fuels industry but also his iron control, it would seem, over all departments in government. It seems that once the Conservatives won outright power they decided to exercise their inalienable right to destroy everything they don’t believe in. They’ve been helped of course by a labour party that is perilously crippled by infighting, but the Chancellor seems to have a deeply ingrained hatred of green technologies anyway and he’s the guy holding the all-powerful purse strings.
Even the normally reliable and loyal Telegraph has had a pop at Renewable George in recent months, railing that every other energy sector has its fair share of subsidies:
“Nuclear power has absorbed far greater levels of support for decades without ever reaching anything like its potential, and the feather-bedding of fossil fuel companies to the tune of $5 trillion worldwide – in the IMF’s estimation – is little less than scandalous.”
The decimation of our green agenda made Cameron’s appearance at the climate talks in November a complete embarrassment.
Think on this: Each and every one of us in the UK currently subsidises the fossil fuel industry to the tune of £400 – a whopping seven times more than we support green industries and five hundred times that of solar subsidies by way of the FIT. This fact alone should set alarm bells ringing a plenty. We’re the only G7 country who is actively increasing fossil fuel subsidies.
There’s got to be something wrong, hasn’t there?
We should be marching in the streets. Banging on the doors of our MPs and getting them to act. Forcing George into a corner and making him back down, or at least making him cry like a kitten. But we’re not. What’s the point in fighting against powerful business interests such as the likes of BP and British Gas and the ignorance of a man like Osborne who no doubt in ten years or so will taking up his rightful place on the board of some multinational fossil fuel conglomerate?
Here’s one final thought: A number of companies like Drax who were taking part in renewable ventures and had the carpet pulled from under their feet are going to be suing the Government. This could well end up costing us, as the tax payers who foot the bill, far more than the cuts in renewable subsidies.
Maybe we should sue the Government ourselves. Actually that’s not a bad idea for us tax payers. The Dutch people sued their government over failure to act on climate change and won. Perhaps it’s time for the general public to give the Government a bloody nose over renewables. Who knows? It might even work.
By Steven M