UK lays out energy path in Clean Growth Strategy

The government’s plan for decarbonising the economy through the 2020s gives support to newer sectors such as offshore wind and battery storage.

The UK government’s roadmap for developing a clean and growing economy was unveiled on Thursday in a plan that encourages offshore wind, energy efficiency and battery storage and gives tepid support for solar.

The Clean Growth Strategy delivers policy proposals for decarbonising the UK’s economy through the 2020s. The goal is to build upon the success the UK has had lowering carbon emissions by more than 42 percent since 1990, while growing GDP by 67 percent, Claire Perry, minister for business, energy and industrial strategy, said in a statement.

At the center of the strategy is a £2.5 billion ($3.3 billion; €2.8 billion) government investment in low-carbon initiatives from 2015 to 2021. On Wednesday, the government announced £557 million of funding available for “less established” technologies at the next clean energy auction planned for 2019.

New technologies and increasing competition are policies at the heart of the Clean Growth Strategy’s plan to meet the UK’s target to cut emissions 57 percent by 2032.

“Clean growth is not an option, but a duty we owe to the next generation, and economic growth has to go hand-in-hand,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in the proposal.
The government signalled support for sectors such as offshore wind, energy efficiency and battery storage that are newer to the UK’s energy mix, but hold potential for clean growth. It said solar and wind, more established sectors, are now competitive with coal and gas and will limit future government support.

Steve Shine, executive chairman of renewables developer Anesco, said the government should still support investors in solar. “We do need to see tangible action to support investors in solar energy¬ – it is now both affordable and subsidy-free and we hope that the promised update later this year will provide much needed long-term certainty for the solar industry.”

Robert Mosh, co-chair of Norton Rose Fulbright’s renewables practice, called the strategy a “watershed in UK clean energy policy”.

“Whilst detailed policy has yet to be developed in a number of areas, overall, it is an important indicator of intention and a continued signal that the government is seeking to couple the growth of UK PLC with a low-carbon future, embracing technological disruption,” he said.