U.K.'s 'Onslaught on Renewables' Criticized by Scottish Minister

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing criticized the U.K. central government’s succession of cuts for support going to renewable energy, saying the policy will undermine investor confidence and hold back progress on reducing emissions.

“We are extremely disappointed that the U.K. government since May has decided to embark on what we can only term as an outright onslaught on renewables through removing planned, tried, tested, promised, clear investment commitments,” Ewing said Monday at a Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in London. “That’s no way to continue to attract investors.”

U.K. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has announced cuts to subsidies for wind, solar and biomass since her Conservative Party was elected to power in May. She’s also removed a tax exemption from low-carbon power generators and cut the government’s main domestic energy efficiency program. Those measures led Ernst & Young for the first time to drop Britain from its list of the 10 most attractive renewable energy markets.

“We are at a situation where it is not easy to chart the onward progress of renewables in Scotland,” said Ewing, whose Scottish National Party is targeting Scotland getting 100 percent of its power from renewables by 2020, up from more than 50 percent last year. “We have not flip-flopped in the wind,” unlike the central government, he said.

Ewing said that with onshore wind and “probably solar” now cheaper than nuclear, the market in the U.K. will tilt toward renewables.

“There is a new paradigm, a new narrative,” he said. “By 2030, renewables will be far less expensive than fossil fuel and nuclear alternatives.”

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