23 January 2017: Clean energy sectors should set up an alliance to shape a supportive industrial strategy.
The British government is today publishing a consultative green paper on a new industrial strategy. It proposes to offer ‘Sector Deals’ to address sector-specific challenges and opportunities. These would “offer a range of support”, including supporting innovation.
The Government highlights that Britain has strengths in research and development of smart energy technologies. And one of the ten” strategic pillars” will be:
“Delivering affordable energy and clean growth. We need to keep costs down for businesses, and secure the economic benefits of the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
In response to the green paper, the Alvin Weinberg Foundation think tank has published a report on The Case for a Clean Energy Alliance. The report argues that:
“An Alliance would bring together like-minded organisations – those concerned with energy security, fuel poverty, economic competitiveness, environment, air quality and climate change – to work towards a common goal of decarbonisation. The renewables, CCS and nuclear sectors do already work together on specific issues, through their trade associations. An Alliance would add value by taking a strategic approach, to complement, not duplicate, the tactical co-operation that takes place between sectors already. The Alliance should not be an alternative public voice for clean energy, but rather unite existing voices.”
“The energy industry needs to offer strategic advice to governments on how best to facilitate clean energy. Some competition between sectors is inevitable: public money is limited. Nevertheless, there are significant questions on which competition is neither necessary nor helpful.”[i]
The criteria for judging what is low-carbon should include the full life-cycle of the technology, including land use change. Full members should be trade associations: companies and civil society organisations could become associate members.
Stephen Tindale, Weinberg director, said:
“An active industrial strategy offers a great opportunity for clean energy. To take advantage, different clean energy sectors should work together more strategically. With all the energy challenges of today, now is not the time for sectoral technology tribalism: it is the time for a Clean Energy Alliance.”
Contact: Stephen Tindale
[i] Strategic questions that an Alliance could address include:
- Should low-carbon energy technologies continue to receive public financial support into the 2020s?
- If so, how should such support be delivered – through guaranteed tariffs or through grants?
- Should public money to support clean energy be raised through taxation or through energy bills?
- How can the operation of the Levy Control Framework be improved in order to increase investor confidence?
- Is the Contract-for-Difference approach efficient and fair: should it be reformed or would the resulting regulatory instability undermine any potential benefits?”