Cutting subsidies in renewables is shortsighted and counterproductive. These industries are Britain’s future and must receive full government backing

Last week there was dismay as the future of Britain’s nuclear sector was subcontracted to France and China. Now, as the impact of the cuts in subsidies for green energy hits home, the country’s future as a leader in renewable technologies risks going the same way as the nuclear expertise that used to be world-beating. Along with it could go its admired position as an effective voice in the climate-change negotiations. In Bonn last week, as diplomats met for the final round of pre-Paris talks, there was bewilderment at the abrupt change in direction. Suddenly the UK, so recently at the forefront of negotiations within the EU, driving through ambitious targets for carbon reduction, looks like a country that isn’t taking climate change seriously.

The government says it just wants to keep energy bills down, and it is true that there is a case for tackling them. It is also true that the subsidies for solar favour wealthier homes, those with suitable roof space to fit solar panels; it would be fairer to spend more on making homes warmer. All the same, the impact on bills of the complex support structure that provides a stable price framework for the new technologies required to green the energy supply and incentivise providers has been greatly exaggerated. By the government’s own estimates, the planned cut in solar subsidies by an industry-destroying 87% will save the average household 50p a year. Meanwhile, energy costs have been blamed for the crisis in the British steel industry too. Yet it is dumping, and Treasury reluctance to challenge EU rules on state support for energy-intensive industries, that has done the real harm to workers in towns like Redcar and Scunthorpe.

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Source: Guardian Environment