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Budget 2020 draws a mixed reaction from the renewable energy sector

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The newly appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak  delivered the UK Government’s 2020 Budget today. While it included commitments such as funding for carbon capture and storage (CCS), further investment in the electric vehicle sector, an extension of the domestic RHI and R&D funding, renewable energy generation as a whole failed to receive new government funding as part of the Budget, with storage technologies also missing.

Energy and environmental organisations gave their reactions:

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said:

“This budget provides some welcome fiscal support for the renewable energy and clean technology; there are clear steps in the right direction especially around extension of the domestic RHI, Carbon Capture and Storage, decarbonising transport and R&D funding. This budget, however, does not make the strides needed to fully unleash the potential of the sector and pave the way to net zero.

With the declared climate emergency, the Government needs to take decisive action to produce a whole-government Net Zero Strategy that includes a detailed, funded and measurable roadmap that delivers the wholesale systems-change required to decarbonise the economy, and then ensure that we have an effective taxation system that protects natural capital, and incentivises renewable energy and clean technology beyond fossil fuels”. 

Chris Hewett, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA), said:

“Without good policies in place to support the uptake of solar we will fall well short of the 40GW needed by 2030 to keep on track”.

Although he did welcome the decision to conduct a fundamental review of business rates, something Mr Hewett described as “the main barrier to the deployment of large rooftop PV.

“Unfortunately, this Budget is thin on measures to tackle climate change and support the transition to a low-carbon economy,” he continued.

Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), said:

“Whilst there is an understandable focus on addressing the coronavirus, climate change is a far greater threat, as Prof Brian Hoskins, founding director of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change, highlighted yesterday. The urgency of tackling it requires us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as possible.

As our recent report ‘Biomethane: The Pathway to 2030’ demonstrated, there is no net zero without biogas. Whilst it is good news that there is commitment to support biomethane injection into the gas grid post March 2021, the government’s ambition to see a tripling of the current level of production by 2030 is only around 38% of the AD industry’s potential.  

In the year the UK hosts COP26, we encourage the government to treble its ambition so that our industry is able to fully support the decarbonisation of agriculture, heat, transport and waste management to reduce total UK emissions by 6% whilst also creating 30,000 new green jobs throughout the UK by 2030, and we look forward to continuing to work with Government to this end.”

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) Chief Executive, Chris Stark, said:

“This Budget doesn’t close the climate policy gap but the Chancellor’s focus is naturally on addressing the immediate Coronavirus situation. Instead, it puts a spotlight on what must follow: the National Infrastructure Strategy – now promised in Spring – the Spending Review and the Treasury’s Net Zero funding review. We will have to look to these to understand the Chancellor’s climate investment strategy. This Budget at least provides a large envelope for public investment overall.

“We welcome funding for increased electric vehicle roll-out and low-carbon heating. The tree-planting package is also positive – and will complement similar steps in Scotland and Wales to increase the size of UK woodland. It’s especially pleasing to see the Treasury remedy its position on supporting carbon capture and storage, which will put the UK in a strong position to develop carbon capture over this decade.

“It’s good to see the Treasury dipping its toe into changes to the tax barriers to reducing emissions. That hints at a willingness to consider more fundamental reform later this year. But getting on track to Net Zero obviously requires a great deal more – and it seems we will have to wait to see promised steps on energy efficiency in buildings. These issues now move centre-stage, requiring urgent attention from the Chancellor.”

Mike Childs head of policy at Friends of the Earth said:

“This Budget contains a massive road-building programme which completely destroys any pretence of UK government leadership ahead of this years’ crucial climate summit.

“Funding for cleaner cars, EV charging, action on plastics and more trees are just a few green sprinklings on a truly awful Budget.

“This Budget will wreck the countryside with new roads, leave Britain choking on filthy air, and further fuel the climate crisis.

“When it comes to fixing our broken planet, this Chancellor certainly isn’t getting it done.”

Nicola Shaw, UK executive director for National Grid said:

“We welcome today’s Budget which makes key commitments on the areas of electric vehicle charging and carbon capture and storage.

“It’s great to see that range anxiety has been recognised as a key blocker to the mass take-up of electric vehicles. We look forward to working with government on their review of charging infrastructure along the full strategic road network.

“By investing today in the electricity infrastructure that will support the charging hubs of tomorrow, the government can help fast-track the take-up of EVs, cutting carbon and improving air quality for communities the length and breadth of the country.

“We welcome also the funding commitment for carbon capture and storage in multiple clusters, which is critical to the decarbonisation of Britain’s industrial heartlands. Deploying this technology and accelerating progress in the development of carbon transport and storage infrastructure will drive future growth in places like the Humber and help to preserve tens of thousands of jobs.”

RenewableUK’s Deputy CEO Melanie Onn said:

“Taken together with the announcements last week on increasing renewables, yesterday’s Budget made clear that cheap, clean energy is vital to achieving net zero at lowest cost. The Chancellor’s decision to raise the business levy on gas boosts the case for investment in new low carbon heating technologies and developing clean fuels, like renewable hydrogen, to decarbonise industry and transport. We look forward to working with the Government to go further and faster in creating the markets for new technologies to deliver net zero”.

The government’s full policy paper for the 2020 Budget is available to view on its website.

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