This week, the government announced their new industrial strategy. Well, almost. What they’ve actually done is announce a plan for their new industrial strategy. It's focused on ten different ‘pillars’ they feel are important to drive forward our industry. Theresa May hopes this will boost the British economy and ensure we deliver ‘long term, sustainable success’. Sustainable? That sounds great Theresa, yes please.
This strategy is an exciting opportunity. No, really. We’ve spent too long separating energy from industry and as a result, it's all been a bit hodge podge. This new cohesive approach is a chance to bring our energy system into the 21st century, securing the upgrades it needs and setting us on the low carbon path we all want.
So, how can we make the most of this? Well the ten pillars offer a wealth of opportunity for our favourite two energy sources, onshore wind and solar power, to thrive. Here's how:
1. Affordable energy and clean growth
No new energy sources can be built without public support in the UK. So, if we’re going to ensure affordability, we need to be investing in the cheapest. That's onshore wind. It's the cheapest form of new electricity capacity we can build right now and even the government's own estimates show that onshore wind will be cheaper than gas as early as next year.
But the government aren’t allowing onshore wind to compete in renewable energy auctions where technologies can bid for financial support. Because these auctions can't favour one technology over another, the government can’t exclude just wind because they don't like it. So instead they're not holding the auction at all. That means not only is onshore wind missing out but solar is being dragged down with it.
If the government want affordability and clean growth, then onshore wind and solar are their best bets. They best stop freezing them out then.
2. Cultivating world leading sectors
The government want the UK to be the home of world leading industry.
The truth is that onshore wind was already a world leading sector. The UK is the windiest country in Europe, and in 2014, the UK had 2% of the world's wind turbines making it the second largest market for wind power.
But instead of encouraging this world leading industry, the government slashed support for renewables, freezing out two of the biggest leaders, onshore wind and solar. As a result in 2015 the UK dropped out of the top ten renewable energy rankings for the the first time.
If we want to cultivate world leading sectors then we can’t pull the rug out from under thriving industries. We need to reinstate support for onshore wind and ensure the UK continues to make the most of our beloved windy weather.
3. Supporting businesses to get going and growing
In August 2015, the onshore wind industry supported 13,600 jobs and solar supported 35,000!
However, since the government cut financial support for these technologies, jobs have plummeted. For solar, 18,000 jobs vanished in the space of 12 months. Last year turbine manufacturers, Endurance, went into administration and Scottish renewables estimate the loss of at least 5,400 jobs in the sector too.
With a lack of consistent support, businesses cannot grow - they can’t even stay afloat. Onshore wind and solar have proven their ability to provide jobs and opportunities for business to boom. They need another shot to make it happen.
Together, we can make sure that onshore wind and solar are put back on the table. This industrial strategy has potential but if you want to help directly, sign our petition calling on the government to stop blocking onshore wind and dragging solar down with it.