UK’s Fossil Lobby Turns to Renewable Energy

Why does the biggest fossil fuel lobbying group in the UK suddenly support renewable energy? It’s just one more sign that we are making progress and the times – they are a’changin.

 

Energy UK’s chief exective says the shift is urgent because they don’t want to be left behind!, reports The Guardian.

 

“No one wants to be running the next Nokia (referring to the mobile phone company that was squashed by forward-looking rivals), CEO Lawrence Slade told The Guardian. Clearly, the direction is toward distributed energy and away from centralized power stations.

 

Incredibly, Energy UK now officially supports the government’s decision to phase out coal while criticizing its drastic cuts to incentives for renewable energy. He wants efficiency measures returned and regulatory support for energy storage to support solar and wind. He wants a long term plan for renewables so that investor confidence can returns, but he also favors natural gas.

 

Since conservatives won last year’s election they have dismantled just about every green program and subsidy for renewable energy, while bolstering them for nuclear and offshore oil.

 

And after emissions from power plants dropped 13.6% last year because of declining coal use, government officials have been calling to bring it back – to keep the lights on.

After shedding thousands of renewable energy jobs since the incentive cuts – and investors pulling out in droves – the government slimmed the cuts for rooftop solar by 65% instead of 87%. Why the cuts at all? Like in the US, conservatives claim subsidies for solar and wind should be temporary (except for fossil fuels and nuclear) and claim it leads to higher utility bills.

 

“In just one month, one nuclear plant at Hinkley would swallow up four years’ worth of subsidies for the whole solar sector. Why are ministers signing a blank cheque for expensive, outdated nuclear power while pinching pennies for an energy source on the cusp of a massive investment boom? This makes no economic sense and will only put up [utility] bills in the long run,” says Greenpeace.

 

Fracking Becomes The Plan

Fracking is the centerpiece of Prime Minister Cameron’s energy plan. A leaked letter from three Cabinet ministers even suggests that permits should be removed from local control because the majority of citizens are squarely against it. The latest polls show 78% support for solar and wind, and 26% support for fracking. Parliament voted to allow fracking everywhere – in national parks and near drinking water supplies. In December, 159 permits were handed out, opening huge swaths of the countryside to fracking. Protests have been widespread.

Scotland banned fracking.

 

Fracking UK

 

“Ministers happily take credit for being climate champions on an international stage [referring to the Paris Climate Agreement] while flagrantly undermining the renewable industry here at home,” Caroline Lucas, a Green Party member of the Parliament, told Reuters.

 

Meanwhile, the formerly booming renewable energy industry is about to fall off a cliff. Last year, wind supplied 11% of electricity, generating power for 30% of households, about 8.25 million homes. And most of Britain’s major cities have pledged to run on 100% renewables before 2050.

 

And this winter has the been the warmest in recorded history in England, up 7°C so far.

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