News at 6am this morning that DECC is cutting £34m from business support, including closure of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme, is hitting home across the renewables industry sector. Just a week ago, the Coalition agreement stated confidently that, “We will seek to increase the target for energy from renewable sources.”
If many of us hoped that the Coalition would at least protect and perhaps at best increase the drive to a low carbon economy, this move fails the test. What’s at stake is a £3m cut in the last stage of the renewable heat element of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP). Devices like solar water heaters, ground source heat pumps, biomass installations are being installed in their low thousands now across the UK.
Last year, 16,639 projects were approved under the LCBP, from householders, communities and businesses. But the jobs potential is phenomenal. The UK is bottom in Europe on renewable heat. This is one of those cuts that could, in a small but telling way, hold back the recovery and green growth.
Instead of stop-go, the programme needs continuous support – as the last Government began to appreciate. Now, small but growing industries faced with enough uncertainty in this hesitant recovery, will take this reversal badly. That means no more grants for renewable heat projects.
As the Renewable Energy Association commented, “What makes this very worrying is we also have no clarity about the future of the Renewable heat Incentive”, which is due to take effect in April 2011. The REA was about to make public that the money would run out in July.
“We will implement a full programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy,” said the Coalition. Not a great start.