Letter Michael Liebreich: Jonathan Ford (“How subsidy culture keeps Britain’s green industry in the black”, Inside Business, October 31) is tilting at windmills in more ways than one. First, renewable energy technology is now competitive with conventional power sources in the UK – if it is allowed to navigate a planning system increasingly tilted against it. Around the world, renewable energy has crushed wholesale power prices, but only in the UK does that drive up its apparent level of subsidy, due to flaws in the design of the Levy Control Framework. Second, Mr Ford’s “green jobs” argument is pure straw man: shifting to high-cost, high-employment energy sources would of course result in the destruction of jobs elsewhere in the economy, which is why sensible advocates are not suggesting it. Third, the industrial strategy the UK needs is not the corporatist 1970s-style approach of directing subsidies at national flagships – much though the UK’s declining oil and gas sector might prefer the old system. The green industrial strategy the UK needs is one that supports the decarbonisation of our own economy, while positioning the UK to export relevant technologies and services – never more important, given the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. It is not really about subsidies at all, it is about joined-up government. What are the policies across research and development, infrastructure, taxation, trade and government procurement which, taken together, can best encourage private capital formation and intellectual property development in key sectors of the future global economy?
FT 2nd Nov 2016 read more »