Powering sustainable growth: Seizing economic opportunity from renewable energy
The Dods Renewable Energy Dialogue hosted an event at Lib Dem conference. Speakers included Energy Secretary Ed Davey MP, Rebecca Taylor MEP, and representatives from JDR Cables, RSA and Co-operative Energy.
European renewables targets, the need to improve supply chains in the sector and the UK parallels with developments taking place in other European countries were all issues raised at a Dods Renewable Energy Dialogue on Monday evening, an event where secretary of state Ed Davey described himself as “obsessive” about renewables.
With the secretary of state Ed Davey joining discussions at the mid-way point, the session was opened by Ramsay Dunning, managing director of Co-operative Energy, who emphasised that low-carbon was central to Co-operative Energy as they made commitments to provide energy that contained less than half of the average carbon content. On measures needed to deliver low carbon production, he cited the role of individuals, communities, regional and national policy as well as a wider international agenda.
Mark Potter, head at renewable energy at RSA, told the packed audience that the insurance firm was the leading renewables insurer and were involved in 80 per cent of the world’s offshore energy, and occupied 10 per cent of the global renewable insurance sector. He spoke about the need for a diverse energy mix, increasing expertise in the sector and the importance of considering the local economic impact that could be delivered.
However whilst there was an appetite around the world for renewable projects, Potter felt that current political uncertainty in the UK meant companies were looking elsewhere, a point echoed by several contributors.
Rebecca Taylor MEP (Yorkshire and Humber) spoke about the need to reduce carbon and the benefits of a green economy, citing that it was eight per cent of the UK’s GDP and continued to grow, providing many regional jobs. Turning to EU energy policy, she then drew parallels with activity being pursued by Germany and Denmark in particular who had significantly increased their sales to the BRIC countries and whose ‘green growth’ plan had seen Denmark look to become independent of fossil fuels by 2030.
She also reminded the audience that the liberal group in the European Parliament had been vocal in the opposition to the delay in the 2030 renewable targets and had called for a 50 per cent cut in greenhouse gases.
Chief executive of JDR Cables Andrew Norman explained that his company were leading providers of technology connecting the global offshore energy industry. He emphasised the need for broader investment and a balanced energy policy adding that offshore could be cost effective but only if developed at a sufficient scale. He told delegates about the importance of private sector investment and therefore the crucial need to have long term policy consistency, to enable security of investment. The current commitments being made were often too short in time periods, he suggested and that effectively at the moment UK taxpayers were subsiding a sector who were taking jobs and equipment from outside the country. There needed to be an effort to promote maximum UK content in renewable schemes, he concluded.
Ed Davey, secretary of state, arrived to speak about the shift in the UK green economy and to emphasis the scale of investment that was being laid out for the years ahead. He noted that 30 per cent of the UK’s £300bn infrastructure model fell in the energy sector and talked about the broader growth potential including in areas like research and development.
Working with the business department, he spoke about measures being put in place to ensure UK companies benefited from this investment, through improving the supply chains among other things.
He felt the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris in 2015 represented the best opportunity to sign an ambitious climate change deal. He explained to delegates how he had set up the Green Growth Group to get the ambitious EU countries working more effectively together. They were now working with the corporate leaders group and MEPs in Europe, and had recently had success with getting the EU emissions trading system (TS) backloading vote back on track.
After the upcoming German election and the European parliamentary elections, they were looking to push on with the reform of the EU carbon market and set some ambitious climate change targets, he said which would put the EU into a leading role.
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