The need for collaboration runs through the energy industries responses to Boris Johnson's re-election in yesterday’s General Election.
While Brexit will undoubtedly be the first thing on the PM’s agenda, the net zero by 2050 target must shortly follow according to the energy industry. Time is running out, and decarbonisation will need political support and cross party collaboration.
The Conservatives manifesto included pledges to reach 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, to invest £9.2 billion in energy efficiency measures for homes, schools and hospitals, and expand infrastructure so that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid electric vehicle charging station. The party now has a strong majority, and the power to enact these developments.
Before the election, an open letter signed by 40 people and organisations, including the Renewable Energy Association, the Solar Trade Association, Renewable UK, National Grid ESO and Scottish Renewables was sent calling for cross-party collaboration in an effort to reach net zero.
The need for renewable expansion and broad collaboration to decarbonise the energy sector has been echoed throughout the sector this morning. Here, some of the industry’s leading figures have their say on the election result, and the governments next steps.
A spokesperson for the Energy Networks Association:
“After months of speculation and uncertainty, it’s vital that all parties work to ensure we have the most supportive political climate possible for the role energy network companies have to play in delivering Net Zero.
“Time is running out – let’s make sure we build on the progress our country has made so far, to decarbonise as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Dr Amrit Chandan, CEO and co-founder of Aceleron:
“Now there is a clear majority in parliament, we need the focus to be on delivering a green economy. The Conservatives must keep their net-zero 2050 promise and meet their positive pledges to invest in green jobs, low carbon infrastructure and a gigafactory to provide home-grown energy storage technology.
“We want to see the Conservatives deliver their promises and make 2020 a transformational year in the clean energy sector. Hopefully the oven ready energy policies are already in the microwave.”
Emma Bridge, chief executive, Community Energy England:
"The Conservative Party manifesto was the only one not to reference community energy directly; however, last night's results confirm this was the 'Brexit' election, and it was the focus of the Conservative Party messaging.
"What was noticeable, and will hopefully provide some comfort, was that in Boris Johnson's first speech he talked about building our green economy and achieving the net-zero goals, albeit by 2050.
"We must now focus on building on the previous recognition for community energy. Claire Perry MP, as minister of state for Energy and Climate Change said that ‘community energy is a key cornerstone of government’s ambition for transition to a low-carbon, smart energy system.’ Both she and her successor Chris Skidmore declared that ‘the future of energy is local’. We will continue to lobby BEIS to recognise the importance of community energy through better and more supportive policy, and most pressingly we are calling for the reinstatement of Social Investment Tax Relief for community energy schemes.
"Importantly today we celebrate those community energy groups who will continue to develop innovative community energy schemes, regardless of party politics, because they understand that people and places need a fairer, renewable, low-carbon energy system that will support our communities to be more sustainable and have greater energy security."
RenewableUK’s CEO Hugh McNeal said:
“We look forward to working with the new government to grow the UK’s renewable energy sector and deliver on the commitments to 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 and developing floating wind projects. The rapid expansion of renewables, including low cost onshore wind and innovative tidal energy, is key to decarbonising our economy and will provide huge benefits for consumers and businesses across the UK.
“The voters have sent a clear signal that climate action must be a top priority, and the eyes of the world will be on the UK this year as we host the UN global climate summit, so this government must take urgent action to get the country on track for net zero”.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE chief executive:
“The one unifying message throughout the UK General Election campaign was the need for bolder action to tackle climate change. SSE will work with the new government to invest billions in the low carbon infrastructure needed to meet its net zero ambitions for the benefit of customers, shareholders and wider society.
“We now need an urgent net zero roadmap which accelerates offshore wind, electric vehicle deployment and develops carbon capture and hydrogen technologies at pace. As an industry we must also redouble efforts to restore trust as we make the transition to a low carbon economy.”
Matthew Vickers, chief executive at the Energy Ombudsman:
“The transition to net zero is one of the critical infrastructure challenges facing the new government. It’s important that consumers and SMEs are protected, as their trust and confidence will underpin successful innovation and investment in essential services.”
The Renewable Energy Association's statement:
“The REA would like to congratulate the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Conservative party on the general election result.
“The climate emergency is the biggest challenge that we face and this is the pivotal moment. The new Government must now implement credible policy to decarbonise the economy in line with our Net Zero targets.
“We welcome the Conservatives commitment to achieve Net Zero targets, as set out in their manifesto.
“However, to achieve this, the new Government must be more ambitious and commit to wholesale systems change across energy, in particular for transport and waste, required to unleash the full potential of renewable energy and clean technology.
“The REA looks forward to working with the new Government to ensure that renewable energy and clean technology is at the heart of the UK Net Zero ambitions.”
Energy UK director of policy, Audrey Gallacher:
“While Brexit will continue to dominate the political agenda - and there will be important issues to now focus on as we look to the future relationship with Europe - we must also quickly break the hiatus in energy policy, therefore it is welcome to hear the continued commitment from the Prime Minister to delivering net-zero emissions by 2050.
“The energy sector is committed to working in partnership with Government and other industries so we can go further and faster in the decarbonisation of our economy. With just 120 quarters until 2050, there is no time to waste so we look forward to seeing clear policy direction from the government which will allow the investment and innovation to follow."
Stephen Irish, commercial director and co-founder of Hyperdrive Innovation:
“Political uncertainty has stalled investment in decarbonisation in recent years. It is therefore crucial that the new government acts now to put UK Automotive manufacturing and engineering at the core of its economic and trade policies. If it can do this and ensure a competitive market for innovation, UK decarbonisation and electrification can thrive and continue to be world leading.”
Stuart Elmes, chief executive of Viridian Solar:
“The Conservatives clearly had the lowest ambition of any political party for addressing the climate emergency, with a poor track record and limited manifesto.
"The only positive from the election result is that the current building regulations consultation, which is looking like it could be extremely positive for solar, was initiated by the last government. I worried that a change of government, even for a more progressive party or coalition, might have the consequence of delaying its implementation.”