New Prime Minister, Theresa May, has scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change as part of a major cabinet reshuffle.
It was announced on Thursday that energy policy will now be decided by the newly-created Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, headed up by Greg Clark – Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The new department will be responsible for delivering industrial strategy, business relations, furthering the UK’s science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change.
The decision was met with widespread surprise. Many expressed worries about the affect it could have on the renewable energy industry; former Labour Leader Ed Miliband tweeted that the decision was “just plain stupid”.
Former Energy Minister, Greg Davey told the Guardian: “This is a major setback for the UK’s climate change efforts. Greg Clark may be nice and he may even be green, but by downgrading the Whitehall status of climate change, Theresa May has hit low carbon investor confidence yet again.”
Phil Hurley, Managing Director at renewable heating manufacturer NIBE, said: “Yesterday’s announcement about the abolition of DECC was unexpected, to say the least. Following the welcome boost provided by the launch of the RHI in 2014, this decision could throw the industry into a renewed state of uncertainty. It would be wrong to say that we at NIBE have no concerns about the potential implications of this for renewable heat in the UK – particularly as it comes during a pivotal RHI consultation period… The fact remains that the UK is legally bound by statute to honour its 2030 carbon reduction targets, and technologies like heat pumps will be integral to ensuring this happens.”
He went on to urge the cabinet not to overlook the vital importance of demand-side reduction in shrinking our collective carbon footprint, and asked the renewable heating industry not to lose focus: “Yes, the RHI and other government initiatives have been major market drivers – but what we need to do now is pull together to ensure renewables flourish on their own merit. At NIBE, we remain fully committed to their capabilities, and their role in building a lower-carbon future for the UK.”
Isaac Occhipinti, Head of External Affairs, EUA said: “We are disappointed that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been moved. At a time when industry is looking to the Government for some certainty and continuity this won’t help. However, we recognise the links between energy and industrial strategy and so we are looking forward to working with Greg Clark and his new team on decarbonising UK heat and exploring how green gas can help us meet our 2050 climate targets.”
But according to Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, the future could be bright: “It is a great shame that a department directly focused on the critical issues of energy and climate change is to close, but a joined up business, industrial strategy and energy approach could provide huge opportunities for solar in the UK, as can be seen in many countries across the world.
“We’re pleased to welcome Greg Clark as the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and look forward to working constructively with him over the coming weeks and months to develop a clear industrial strategy and policy roadmap for the solar industry.”
Here at Logic Certification, we hope that the new government’s future energy strategy retains a strong commitment to renewable technologies, and energy saving measures such as Smart Meters. We will be watching closely as the story develops.