Renewable and nuclear bodies unite for UK policy call

In a rare show of solidarity, a UK renewable energy trade body has joined its counterpart from the nuclear sector to lobby the British government over a decarbonisation target for the nation's power industry.

RenewableUK and the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) have both signed a letter to UK energy secretary Ed Davey urging that the decarbonisation goal is included in new legislation due before Parliament within the next few weeks.

The “low-carbon industry” bodies claim that inclusion of the target would help to calm investors’ nerves over the UK’s long-term energy policies, whether in the renewable or nuclear sectors.

“Like government, we believe that a diverse energy mix is likely to be the most cost-effective pathway to largely decarbonising the power sector, which means investment in nuclear, renewables, and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS),” says the letter, which is also signed by the UK’s Carbon Capture and Storage Association.

"We also support the recommendation by the Committee on Climate Change that the power sector will need to be largely decarbonised by 2030 if the UK is to meet its long term emissions targets.

“If a reference were included in the Energy Bill to this objective, this would not only reassure potential investors by lowering the perceived political risks, but could also reduce the cost of capital for decarbonising the power sector,” the letter adds.

The industry bodies are pushing at an open door with Davey, who has stated his support for a decarbonisation target.

But Davey – a member of the minority Liberal Democrat faction in the UK’s coalition government – has a powerful foe in the shape of finance minister George Osborne, a top Conservative, who is known to be resisting it.

The two factions are currently engaged in last-minute haggling over the contents of the Energy Bill, which is seen as key to delivering the Electricity Market Reform (EMR) programme that major offshore wind companies say is vital if they are to make major investment decisions.

A group of major suppliers in the industry recently signed a letter of their own to Davey supporting decarbonisation.

Their nerves were not helped last week by an extraordinary public rift between Davey and his Conservative junior energy minister over the future of onshore wind development.

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