Skip to Navigation

Opportunities of a New Government

We’ve had a few days to digest the election result and its impact on the renewables industry, and it can safely be said that this is both a historic opportunity and a weighty responsibility for all of us.

For the first time in the modern solar industry era (post-2010), there is a Government that is unambiguous in its wish for all parts of our sector to succeed. At a headline level, we share the national mission to decarbonise the power system as soon as possible, and that rapid rollout of solar and energy storage is at the core of this mission. This ambition is not only articulated by a Secretary of State, in Ed Miliband, whose entire political career has been dedicated to this very issue, but crucially be the Prime Minister and Chancellor as well. The drive for clean energy is at the heart of the government’s economic growth agenda, on which the rest of the entire programme hinges.

Looking beyond the government, there are over 300 new MPs, many of whom will better understand the climate change agenda and interest in renewable energy than the last intake. 72 Liberal Democrats and 4 Greens MPs, representing unexpected parts of the country, will add to the change in tone and substance of the Westminster debate, although some may come under local pressure to oppose development. Of course, there will be some old and new voices pedalling misinformation and climate denial, but theirs will be a fringe opinion, no matter how hard they shout. Debate and decisions will be more based on evidence and public opinion and less on culture wars and the latest piece in The Telegraph.

Of course, the delivery challenges have remained, but the political will to build infrastructure, attract investment, reduce emissions, and cut energy bills is clear. Ministers may understand the issues around grid, skills, planning, and communicating the benefits of renewables, but they still need to address them—with our help.

The message from the Prime Minster is clear. The missions are partnerships between the government, businesses, and the people. As an industry, we have been increasingly confident about the investment, job creation, and economic benefits we can provide for the country. We have also been clear about how we can deliver cheap homegrown power that cuts bills and increases Britain’s energy security. So, the next five years must also be about upholding our part of the bargain. Solar farms and rooftops must be built with UK-based skilled labour, wherever possible. Community engagement and land management must be of the highest quality so we are a good neighbour in parts of the country that are unused to energy infrastructure. Supply chain transparency must demonstrably show high ESG standards. Consumers should be provided with lower energy bills and high standards of installation.

I know this sector is more than capable of this. The next few years should be very exciting indeed—time for delivery.

Chris Hewett – Chief Executive at Solar Energy UK