How do Renewables and Biomass Fair in the General Election 2015.

How do Renewables Fair in the General Election 2015.


With the 2015 election coming up, we thought we’d take a look how biomass and other renewables figure in the main party manifestos. You can find the highlights outlined in this article.

Conservative

The Conservative party promise to deliver ‘secure, affordable and low carbon energy’ from sources such as the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, offshore wind turbine manufacturing at the Green Port in Hull, pipelines in West of Shetland and the Swansea tidal lagoon. They talk about their ‘record levels of investment’ in North Sea and shale gas. Expansion in new nuclear and gas is also promised, along with ‘good-value green energy’ and ‘new investment in UK energy sources’. There will also be funds available for ‘promising renewable technologies and research’, although such funds will only be available for ‘those that represent value for money’.

The Conservatives also intend to stop further expansion of onshore wind farms as they are not popular with the public. They say that onshore windfarms by themselves cannot ‘provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system provides’. They also pledge to ‘push for a strong global climate deal later this year’, moving towards the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees. The Conservatives will continue to support the UK Climate Change Act.

Labour

Labour promise to ‘make Britain a world leader in low carbon technologies over the next decade, creating a million additional green jobs’. They are also aiming to reduce domestic carbon reduction, ‘including a legal target to remove carbon from our electricity supply by 2030’ and improve energy efficiency. As well as giving additional powers to the Green Bank to invest in green business and technology, Labour intend to establish an Energy Security Board to create and implement a strategy encompassing renewables, nuclear, green gas, carbon capture and storage and clean coal. They also plan to regulate ‘onshore unconventional oil and gas.’

Liberal Democrats

In their manifesto, the Lib Dems take the credit for the current government being the greenest ever. They pledge to make saving energy a priority, abolish coal generation by 2025 and claim to have an ‘ambitious power sector “decarbonisation” target’. Other promises include over one third of electricity coming from renewable energy by 2020, council tax discount for green homes and investment in research and development in greener energy.

The Green Party

Unsurprisingly the Green Party devote a large part of their manifesto to energy and the climate. The Green Party promise to decrease the amount of required energy by increasing energy efficiency, invest heavily in renewables and ‘put community, cooperative and locally owned clean energy generation and supply at the heart of our energy system.’ They claim that the use of shale gas and oil and tar sands will have the opposite effect of dealing with climate change. Reliance on oil, coal and gas will be minimised quickly and use of renewable energy increased.

Using Energy Wisely

The Green Party claim that if energy waste is reduced and efficiency improved, renewables can meet all energy requirements. They propose to cut energy demand by one-third by 2020, one half by 2030 and two-thirds by 2050.

Home energy improvement will be key to increasing energy savings and guaranteeing reasonably priced energy for all. The Green Party will:

  • Provide an insulation programme to combat fuel poverty.
  • Introduce a requirement for all new homes to be built according to the Passivhaus standard.
  • Investment in energy awareness programmes.
  • Continue with a fully funded Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.
  • Support research and development into less energy-intensive industrial processes.
  • Make public transport a priority over private transport and propose a switch to electrification of transport and better mobility access.
  • Implement communal heating schemes, such as using waste heat from industry.
  • Use carbon taxes to pay for energy-efficiency schemes and instigate a carbon quota scheme to regulate energy demand.

Carbon Quotas

The Green Party propose to introduce carbon quotas. Emissions would be shared equally and fairly, i.e. everyone would be entitled to the same amount, irrespective of how much money they have. People who use less can sell some of their allowance to those who use more and will therefore be rewarded for reducing their emissions. Around 50% of the quota would be distributed, free of charge, to all adults and the rest would be sold to companies and organisations.

Owning and Controlling Energy

The Green Party propose to include a wide range of both public and private participants in the energy system, including community, cooperative and municipal generation, supply and distribution. They will:

  • Increase opportunities for community or municipally owned, or cooperative not-for-profit organisations to produce and provide electricity and heat at the retail level.
  • Aim for at least 42 gigawatts (GW) of community power by 2020.
  • Insist that grid operators give community energy projects priority access at a reasonable price.
  • Stop companies from both producing and supplying energy to consumers.
  • Give the public control over the strategy and policies of the National Grid.
  • Provide lasting fixed-price feed-in tariffs for renewable energy generators.
  • Introduce progressive consumer energy tariffs so that those with lower consumption pay less per unit, special needs are recognised, those that cannot afford to pay do not have their supply cut off and people are not obliged to have pre-payment meters.
  • Guarantee a single scheme of regulation across the entire industry, to include meeting climate change targets and defending consumer interests.

 Speeding the Renewables Revolution

The Green Party plans to change to an energy system using electricity mostly from renewables within 15-20 years and slightly longer for transport. This will require large amounts of investment and improved energy storage. In order to do this they will do the following:

  • Invest up to £35 billion in renewable energy generation and the national grid.
  • Grant full borrowing powers to the Green Investment Bank.
  • Focus on mature renewable technologies, including wind and solar PV and aim to reduce costs.
  • Guarantee that all public buildings have solar panels by 2020.
  • Urge social landlords to fit solar panels on appropriate properties; this can save those on low incomes up to two weeks’ rent.
  • Aim to decrease costs and increase investment in manufacturing and supply chains with targets of 42 GW of offshore wind by 2020, 60 GW by 2030 and 25 GW of solar PV by 2020.
  • Spend £2.5 billion on research and development of other renewables such as wave and tidal stream generators, as well as storage technology.
  • Phase out fossil fuel energy generation and close all coal based power stations by 2023 or sooner.
  • Phase out Nuclear power by 2025.
  • Ban fracking and other new fossil fuels in the UK.
  • Put an end to tax breaks in the fossil fuel industry.
  • Move away from fossil fuels and focus instead on investment in renewables.
  • Deployment of carbon capture and storage to current biomass and gas power stations as a temporary measure only.
  • Energy generated from biomass will only take place where it can be done sustainably and taking the human and environmental effects into account.
  • Make a decarbonisation target of 25-50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt per hour by 2030.
  • Increase electric storage, including space for electric vehicles and create the relevant commercial and regulatory framework accordingly.
  • Introduce smart meters and appliances.

The Scottish National Party (SNP)

The SNP are backing lower energy bills by moving forward with the Energy Company Obligation, which will be funded through taxes rather than a levy on energy bills. They will also advise energy companies to pass on price savings to customers. Alongside this there will be a push to alter the transmission charging system, which is negatively affecting Scottish generators and putting the future of Longannet power station in jeopardy.

The SNP will also encourage ambitious aims for a reduction in carbon, in line with Scotland’s targets. They will persist in backing a ban on fracking.

They promise to support offshore wind in order to produce renewable energy, as well as increase manufacturing opportunities and guarantee the utmost investment in Scotland. There will be a push for pump hydro, Carbon Capture and Storage schemes, community heating schemes and a continuation of the renewable heat incentive (RHI).

The SNP aim to support community energy generation and make the national grid more accessible to communities.

UK Independence Party (UKIP)

UKIP are intending to revoke The Climate Change Act. They will support the restoration of UK power stations and onsite power generation. They ‘support a diverse energy market based on coal, nuclear, shale gas, conventional gas, oil, solar and hydro, as well as other renewables where these can be delivered at competitive prices.’ They will encourage ‘fracking’ and investment in coal.

They will back renewables only if they believe that electricity can be generated at competitive prices. They claim that hydro is currently the only main scale renewable that achieves this and that wind power and farms are ‘hopelessly inefficient…blight landscapes and line the pockets of wealthy landowners.’

UKIP will put an end to green taxes and levies and will pull out of the EU’s transmission trading scheme. They will prevent energy companies charging more for prepayment meters, paper billing and not paying by direct debit.

 

There are obviously other factors than how renewables fair when making a decision about where to place your vote. It is interesting to see the diverse and extreme policies from one party to another. Who will you vote for and will renewables factor in your decision?