Government strikes back with statement on energy payments

A LACK of support for the UK’s renewables industry is a criticism that has increasingly been aimed at the Government.

Delays in decision-making that have eroded investor confidence is one criticism in particular that keeps landing at the feet of those strutting around the corridors of power.

However, last week, the Government fired back with an announcement that suggested it had been listening and was indeed prepared to act.

On Thursday, Danny Alexander revealed details of the “strike prices” – one month earlier than expected.

Strike prices are guaranteed payments the Government will give for electricity produced from wind, tidal, wave, biomass and solar sources, and were revealed by the treasury secretary as part the Government’s infrastructure plan.

Speaking yesterday from the Areva Wind Supply Conference, Mark O’Reilly, director and chairman of Team Humber Marine Alliance (THMA), said: “Last week’s announcement was quite unexpected.

“I had a lunch out of the office for the first time in ages and, when I looked at my phone, I had so many missed calls and messages.

“I have spoken today with various people and the general consensus is they were expecting the strike price to be lower, so it has been welcomed, which is good news.”

Locally, it is hoped the announcement will give investors the confidence to press ahead with plans for developing – namely Siemens’ Green Port Hull development and Able UK’s plans for a Marine Energy Park on the south bank.

Indeed, after detailing how he expected the reforms to bring forward 8 to 16 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity, Mr Alexander appeared to almost challenge investors to put their money where their mouth was, adding: “Industry asked for certainty. We’ve given it. So now they need to get on with it.”

Neil Etherington, Able UK’s group development director, said the announcement sends out “a strong message of the Government’s commitment:

He said: “The fact the Government has come forward with the announcement on strike prices earlier than expected will, I am sure, be taken by the major players in the offshore wind sector as a real demonstration of the wish to see the UK benefit from the tremendous opportunities offered through the next round of major projects planned for the North Sea.

“The Humber is uniquely well placed to exploit these opportunities and Able Marine Energy Park, at the centre of largest Enterprise Zone in the UK, can be the catalyst for creating a cluster of companies, large and small establishing the Humber as world-class centre for the renewable energy industries.”

Although Siemens has yet to reveal further announcements for its plans for Green Port Hull, the company still lists the development as one of its ‘main manufacturing sites’.

On its website, the company says, “the proposed £80m investment in a wind turbine assembly and project execution facility at GreenPort Hull shows Siemens’ commitment to the UK wind industry.”

Mr O’Reilly added: “I am always an optimist, but news about the strike price has added to our confidence about Able UK and Siemens’ investment in the Humber.

“We are all putting a lot of work in and often it appears there is no news, so when you hear snippets of information it does help fuel confidence.

“Ultimately, it is all a big complicated jigsaw we are trying to piece together, but announcements like the new flights to Copenhagen from Humberside Airport shows there is confidence in the future here in the Humber.”