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'Policy uncertainty' casting shadow of doubt over future of UK renewables

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The future of the UK’s rapidly expanding renewable energy sector could be under threat due to “policy uncertainty” beyond 2020, leading energy bodies have said.

The comments come from Renewable UK and the Renewable Energy Association (REA), which have both acknowledged that the renewables sector in the UK is currently booming – but have warned that its future success will prove unsustainable unless the Government extends its support to the sector.

According to the latest report from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the number of power stations in the UK generating electricity from single-source renewable energy such as wind and solar is now five times higher than it was ten years ago.

As many as 772 single-source renewable power stations were in operation in May 2017 – up from just 153 in 2007, it reveals.

342 UK power stations are now fuelled solely by wind, while 277 now rely on nothing but solar power, despite the fact that only a decade ago there was not a single solar-only power station operating in the UK.

But Ms Pinchbeck has warned that the sector could be at risk amid “policy and investment uncertainty” and Government complacency.

“This is no time to rest on our laurels. There is policy and investment uncertainty beyond 2020, making it harder to build the vital new infrastructure that will underpin industrial growth and emissions reduction,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the REA, said that BEIS’ report should be seen as a “national success story,” but shared Ms Pinchbeck’s view going into the future.

She warned that the Government must begin to “look beyond 2020,” particularly in communicating “how it intends to structure the electricity market.”

She stressed that the UK was in dire need of “a smarter and more flexible grid, support for innovative technologies like energy storage, and a level playing field that allows all renewables to compete for investment.”

“A timeline and budgets for new power auctions need to be clarified,” she said.