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“Gordon – give us an energy minister to give us an energy policy” - Energy White Paper 2007
Submitted: 23 May 2007
The renewable energy industry is calling on the incoming Prime Minister to appoint a cabinet level Energy Minister, having described today’s White Paper as ‘isolated initiatives in search of a policy’.
Energy policy is ‘as crucial as defence’; Tony Blair said today, yet he has never had an energy minister in his cabinet and downgraded the role in his last reshuffle.
The Renewable Energy Association, which speaks for the industry, welcomes individual measures in the White Paper, but says much more will be needed to achieve the 20% contribution to total energy now adopted as a binding European target.
“Yet again this document scores top marks for rhetoric, but must try harder to match this with effective action”, says REA Chief Executive Philip Wolfe. “It pays lip service to local energy production but, like Monday’s Planning White Paper, only addresses centralised power. It mentions important technologies like renewable heat, biomass and smart metering, but has no measures to bring them into the mix. And it has no proposals for energy efficiency and renewables in the 25 million existing homes, which will still be consuming energy for decades to come.”
The Association has welcomed plans to maintain and improve the Renewables Obligation and further consideration of tidal barrages. “We hope the changes to the Obligation will make offshore wind viable”, says Mr Wolfe, “but we doubt they’ll be enough to bring forward key technologies like photovoltaic, tidal and wave power. And the RO must be supported by firm action on planning and grid access, to succeed even where it is effective.”

“But the Renewables Obligation alone is wholly inadequate to meet our wider objectives. We need robust policies for renewable heat and cooling especially in our domestic and commercial buildings. The aspirations for renewables in the Energy Efficiency Commitment, for example, are ludicrously modest. At the rate the government is hoping for, it would take over two hundred years to upgrade our existing housing stock.”

The Association noted that the White Paper would not be the last word. “Clearly more work is needed to meet the bold European targets,” said Philip Wolfe. “Within the next few months we must turn this soup of disconnected and often complex measures into a single coherent sustainable energy policy”.

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