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Why Is UK Renewable Energy Investment Lagging?

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In recent years, the United Kingdom’s commitment to renewable energy has fallen significantly behind global trends, as per an examination of international data. The most recent government statistics reveal that the UK’s renewable energy capacity has grown at an average rate of 4.45% in the past three years. In contrast, the global average for annual growth stands at 9.67%.

Political Criticism and Environmental Concerns

This analysis comes on the heels of the government’s decision to approve over 100 new licences for oil and gas exploration. Wera Hobhouse, the energy and climate spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, criticised the government’s inability to invest in the cleanest, most cost-effective, and most popular energy source. She called for the removal of restrictions on new solar panel and wind projects and greater empowerment for local authorities to promote decentralised energy, which not only reduces bills but also creates skilled job opportunities for the future. She argued that these figures demonstrate the Conservative party’s untrustworthiness in environmental matters.

Roger Fouquet, a senior research fellow at the Energy Studies Institute in the National University of Singapore, acknowledged that as countries like Iceland progress toward 100% renewable energy, their investment may decrease as they meet rising power demands. However, the UK cannot be compared to such nations. Fouquet pointed out that the UK’s current renewable electricity capacity is below 50%, and it requires substantial further investment to be considered a leader in low-carbon energy systems. In fact, 45% of European economies have a greater share of renewable electricity capacity.

Industry Advocates Push for Competitive Renewables Strategy

RenewableUK, a prominent non-profit energy trade association, believes that the government must formulate a strategy to compete with the European Union and the United States in the competitive renewables market. Ana Musat, the organisation’s executive director of policy, emphasised the need for a comprehensive plan to make the UK’s renewables sector more appealing to global investors. This would enable the country to pursue large-scale clean energy projects and attract investments in critical areas such as blade manufacturing, cables, and floating offshore wind technology.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero defended the government’s stance, stating that they make no apologies for taking early and swift actions in renewable energy compared to many other countries. They highlighted their success in attracting approximately £120 billion in renewable energy investments since 2010, with an additional £100 billion expected in net zero initiatives by 2030. This substantial investment has significantly increased the share of energy generated from renewables, from 6.7% in 2010 to 41.5% in 2022, providing power and supporting up to 480,000 jobs in the UK.

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