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Renewable energy trade bodies outline key actions for next UK government

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Renewable energy trade bodies have this week outlined the key actions they feel the next UK government must take if plans to decarbonise our energy and achieve Net Zero are to be achieved, following the general election on 4th July, with each calling for clarity, ambition and urgent action.

The REA have released a ‘First 100 Days action plan‘ calling on the next government to “put the energy transition front and centre of its’ legislative programme”. The plan focusses on 5 key areas – circular bioresources, heat & cooling, power & flexibility, and transport – accompanied by cross-sector objectives, setting out a series of steps and policy actions that would provide long-term assurances to the sector, and ensure the UK is once more positioned as a global leader in the energy transition.

Immediate suggestions include:

  • The establishment of an Office for Net Zero Deployment, as recommended within Chris
    Skidmore’s Net Zero Review, ensuring it can hold government to account against sustainability and net zero targets.
  • A government commission to identify any gaps in existing guidance, building on the strength of existing regulations, to ensure best practice in relation to installations, supply chains and maintenance and operations for all technologies.
  • Deliver pathways for the deployment of bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to deliver critical negative emissions by 2030.
  • Reinvigorate financial incentives to encourage green technology adoption.
  • Make soil health a priority.

Meanwhile RenewableUK’s manifesto calls for “an era of delivery and growth”, outlining the organisation’s vision for a clean energy future in the UK and providing recommendations for the next five years to help accelerate renewable energy deployment, bolster energy security, lower electricity costs and grow the economy. Five key requests are:

  • A clear plan to deliver the pipeline of renewable energy projects, including setting ambitious deployment targets beyond 2030 and better cross-government coordination to achieve this.
  • Modernisation of the Contracts for Difference scheme to enable consistent volumes of renewables to be deployed year on year.
  • More efficient planning framework to enable projects and net zero infrastructure to be built more swiftly.
  • Scaling up of supply chains and skills capabilities, including a tripling of the UK’s manufacturing capacity in the next decade.
  • Policies which unlock greater levels of private investment into vital flexible technologies such as long duration energy storage and the co-location of battery storage alongside wind and solar farms, to ensure our future energy system is efficient, cheaper and secure.

Solar Energy UK’s manifesto points to the election offering an opportunity to better harness the enormous benefits of greater solar generation and energy storage – with the industry calling for more ambitious objectives for the sectors.

By the end of 2024, the UK will have around 20GW of solar generation capacity in place, supplemented by 8GW of storage capacity. Solar Energy UK believe that 50GW of solar is needed by 2030, with 30GW of zero-carbon energy storage, and have highlighted 5 pivotal actions required:

  • Embrace UK Solar, including a recognition of the dual-use benefits of ground mounted solar farms, which are encouraged by both the planning system and agricultural support mechanisms such as ELMS.
  • Bring the benefits of solar and storage to new homes.
  • Turbo-charge the network for net zero
  • Build skills for British green jobs
  • Implement a renewables-first approach to market reform.

The strategy published by Scotland’s renewable energy trade body, Scottish Renewables, sets out the areas the next UK government must focus on if it is to secure a world-class clean energy system, highlighting that it risks being “cut adrift in the global race to a clean energy future unless investment, infrastructure and innovation are at the heart of its plans”.

The ‘Clean energy future: time is now’ publication outlines a number of recommendations, including:

  • Modernise the Contracts for Difference scheme to enable the stable deployment of Scotland’s renewable energy pipeline.
  • Prioritise the delivery of strategic infrastructure for net-zero, including upgrades to our ports and new transmission infrastructure.
  • Adopt an evolutionary, not revolutionary approach, to market reform to provide the policy certainty needed to incentivise investment.
  • Deliver clearer coordination for net-zero delivery across the UK to scale-up supply chains, skills and green growth.

As highlighted by the REA, the next administration will decide whether the UK meets its energy decarbonisation and net zero targets. It is therefore critical that the winner of the general election prioritises the energy transition and takes on board industry advice, to enable essential targets to be met and create the clean energy future we are striving towards.

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