United Kingdom

United Kingdom

All main political parties agree to retain Renewables Obligation legislation

The UK's three main political parties have pledged to maintain the Renewables Obligation (RO) as the main tool for delivering increased generation from renewables. Speaking at the British Wind Energy Association's annual conference in Manchester, energy spokesmen for the UK's three main political parties agreed on the importance of renewable technologies for security of energy supply and helping to deal with climate change. But it was the cross-party commitment to the RO that delighted delegates the most. The commitment will reduce much of the perceived political risk of investing in renewables -- a concern frequently expressed by the financial community who fear that a change of government would signal the end of the RO. Shadow minister for energy, Laurence Robertson, stressed the Conservative party's support for current legislation on increasing the green share of the energy mix, saying that "under a Conservative government the Renewables Obligation would continue." Despite attacks on wind energy by the Conservatives in recent months, Robertson added that "wind will and should play a significant role in our energy supplies." Andrew Stunell, the Liberal Democrats' energy spokesman, agreed that political parties should have consensus on the overall direction of energy policy, but added that they could still have a healthy debate on the means to get there. Energy minister Stephen Timms claimed that after the government found solutions for the RO's early teething problems, the legislation is proving to be popular with both the financial community and developers. This summer's publication of proposals for the scope of the government's review of the RO next year will reassure the wind industry "of our commitment to the obligation as the key element of our renewables policy," he said. Financial commentators at the conference welcomed the political parties' united front. From Barclays, Peter Calliafas said the consensus over the RO "should mitigate some of the perceived uncertainty from investors looking to finance projects in this sector." Tony White of Climate Change Capital called the Conservative commitment "the most important policy statement I've heard this year." See the September issue for a full report of the upbeat BWEA conference, Build and Deliver.

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