Support for renewable energy is no longer the preserve of eco-warriors, nor the enemy of the sceptical pragmatist. Experts from academia and government agree that after years of heavy subsidy, renewable energy is close to paying its own way. “Few would have imagined that by 2018 we would be talking about a subsidy-free future for renewables,” admits Mateusz Wronski of Aurora Energy Research. “Yet this is where we have arrived – and our research highlights clearly the enormous prize and potential in the market, not only in Great Britain but across Europe.” Aurora broke ranks with traditional energy rhetoric earlier this year by publishing data showing that new renewable energy projects are now the cheapest source of electricity in the market and hold the promise of a multi-billion-pound investment boom for Britain. “The subsidy-free revolution is here, and it’s big. This is a £60bn investment opportunity in north-west Europe alone,” Wronski says, with Britain poised to gain far more than any other country from the coming revolution. A rapid shift in the economics of energy has brought renewables to the brink of a major tipping point only a few years away. Britain could begin to host onshore wind and solar projects without the need for subsidies from the early 2020s, to unlock about £20bn of investment between now and 2030. At the end of the next decade, offshore wind will follow suit. Last week, the renewable agenda found a fresh ally. Sir John Armitt, the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, made the most hard-headed case for renewable energy yet. In the first ever independent assessment of Britain’s infrastructure needs, the commission dealt a blow to the Government’s nuclear ambitions by warning ministers against striking a deal for more than one follow-up to the Hinkley Point C project before 2025. Instead, government should focus its efforts on rolling out more renewable power. The pace of the zero-subsidy roll-out could become quicker if developers are allowed to enter their “zero” bids into the flurry of auctions held by National Grid throughout the year to guarantee generation and an optimal frequency for the grid. By taking part in the subsidy auctions, wind developers would soon be able to cast a bid at or below the cost of wholesale power prices, which would effectively mean zero added costs to bills. This would provide certainty to investors, lower the project’s risk and reduce the cost of capital needed to bring the projects to life. In turn, consumers would be in line for lower bills.
Telegraph 15th July 2018 read more »