Government green electricity schemes are being urged to help maintain and protect the UK’s energy . The Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne was given a stark warning by a coalition of 22 environmental groups not to reduce the subsidies for green electricity following a spending review by the government.
The 22 groups included the Renewable Energy Association, The National Farmers Union and the Federation of Master Builders, who in a letter to Mr Huhne warned any cuts to the government’s subsidies, would have a detrimental impact on jobs, carbon targets, the amount of renewable energy generated by households and energy security.
The letter was issued following comments from Charles Hendry, the minister of state for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who said he was ‘closely reviewing’ the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme which would cost £27billion and is scheduled to start in April 2011. The scheme has been designed to encourage households to invest in green heating devices like heat pumps. Henry also said he would be reviewing the £8billion Feed-In Tariff (FIT) launched this April, which incentivizes homeowners to install solar panels.
In a recent interview, Hendry suggested both schemes may be cut, saying, ‘We inherited a situation where we could see who was going to benefit commercially but we couldn’t really see how it was going to be paid for and that it would create pretty substantial bills’.
Justine Greening, economic secretary to the Treasury also criticized the schemes, ‘…We will focus on the most cost-effective approaches (to tackle climate change).’ She added, ‘In fact, the more you care about climate change, the more value for money counts. We have to make sure every penny saves the maximum emissions possible. And we will put a stop to the last government’s obsession with equating high levels of expensive inputs with high impact.’
Although the amount the government funds towards the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) is up for review in 2012, it has been a phenomenal success since it was launched. A record number of households and businesses have taken up the scheme by installing solar panels. However the 22 groups feel the government is concerned about how much the FIT is costing them.
The shadow energy secretary, Ed Miliband has also expressed his concern, saying ‘This government promised to be the greenest ever but it is already betraying this promise.’
He added, ‘Unless we go ahead with the feed-in tariff and renewable heat incentive as planned, we will never achieve the greening of our energy supplies that we need. Instead of creating uncertainty and delay, the government should reaffirm the commitments made by the previous Labour government.’
The Department of Energy and Climate Change responded to the concerns by saying they were pure speculation. A spokesperson said, ‘The government is doing what people would expect any responsible government to do, especially in the current economic climate.’
They added, ‘That is looking across all our policies and inherited spend, which includes the most insubstantial costs associated with the proposed renewable heat incentive and the feed-in tariff scheme, to ensure that what is being spent is being spent in the best and most efficient way.’