UK government misses a trick as onshore wind leads on cost


In a milestone for UK renewables, electricity from onshore wind power is now cheaper than from any other source of energy for the first time. The finding is part of a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which shows that worldwide, renewables are closing the cost gap with fossil fuels. Onshore wind is now cost competitive with coal, oil and gas in many parts of the world – including the UK and Germany – and solar is quickly catching up. In the face of such success, and with the UK renewables sector continuing to break records, the UK government is at risk of “betting on the wrong horse” as it continues to roll-back support policies for its booming renewables industry in favour of backing out-dated fossil fuels, risking jobs, hitting companies and communities, and undermining the country’s role as a climate and clean energy leader.



Key Points

  • Renewables are closing the gap with fossil fuels globally. The positive picture for renewables in the UK is being mirrored across the world, with wind and solar technologies falling in price, while the costs of fossil fuels continue to head upwards. From Sweden to Brazil, China to India countries are waking up to the opportunities of a clean energy future. As renewables grow in the global energy mix, and clean energy jobs rise rapidly, a 100 percent renewable energy future – and all its benefits – has never looked closer.




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Key Quotes

  • “There’s still a tendency for the general public to believe that renewables are really expensive, while coal and gas are really cheap. This is how it used to be not so long ago, but over the past five years technology costs have come down significantly, along with financing costs.” – Seb Henbest, Bloomberg
  • “This is yet another major breakthrough for clean technologies that just go on smashing new records on efficiency and prices. As the production costs of coal, gas, and nuclear power keep rising and those of wind and solar falling, it’s blindingly obvious that the UK government are backing the wrong horses. Millions of British consumers will pay for this mistake with higher bills to subsidise costly, outdated and polluting power sources.” – Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace
  • “For all his rhetoric about building, it’s not scaffolding George Osborne is bringing to Britain’s clean energy sector but a wrecking ball. Evidence is growing that the Chancellor’s policies are putting people out of jobs, damaging investment, and harming one of the country’s most promising industries. This should be a wake-up call for David Cameron, who faces international embarrassment ahead of crucial climate talks. As prime minister, he has a duty to leave internal party politics aside and rein back a rogue Chancellor who’s putting investment, jobs, and growth at risk.” – Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr
  • “These huge job losses are likely to be the first of many as Government attacks on efforts to build a low-carbon economy begin to bite. Government policy threatens over 20,000 UK solar jobs – with many more at risk in other green sectors. It seems the Treasury is happier to give sky-high subsidies to Chinese nuclear power, than support British solar. The renewable energy industry around the world is booming and costs are falling rapidly, but the UK government seems to be stuck in the wrong century.” – Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Alasdair Cameron
  • “The messages coming out of the government don’t make sense. One of the key aims of the feed-in tariff was supposed to be around public engagement and nowhere is this more true than in schools. Schools say that is has opened the doors to educate both pupils and adults about energy and climate change.” – Amy Cameron, campaign manager at 10:10

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