Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fragmented and Out of Focus: The UK’s Renewable Energy Sector Is Unnecessarily Expensive to Taxpayers and Consumers

Last updated Wednesday, February 28, 2024 13:15 ET

Peter Prior chairman of Summerleaze and industry veteran, says the industry/civil service relationship excludes solutions that better suit taxpayers and consumers.

Slough, United Kingdom, 02/28/2024 / SubmitMyPR /

For decades, different regions have begun examining how society can transition to greener, more efficient energy sources. In recent years, commitments to make ‘clean energy’ more widespread have resulted in net zero pledges and an overhaul of previous policies. However, the UK renewables policy has its flaws. Peter Prior, the chairman of Summerleaze, a mineral extraction company that was formerly engaged in the production of renewable energy, asserts that the UK policy fails to find all the cheapest solutions. The influence of large companies on government departments results in many small solutions not being adopted. The lack of knowledge government officials have on energy projects is a major challenge to giving taxpayers their best value for money.

Summerleaze was founded in 1928, originally specializing in mineral extraction, but eventually diversified its services through waste management and renewable energy. Since joining the company in 1962, Peter has seen several changes in the renewable landscape. Even by 1962, people recognized the need to replace fossil fuels with other forms of energy. However, minimal action was being taken to utilize renewable energy sources other than hydroelectric schemes.

The modern UK renewable energy market has become controlled by massive corporations. As a result, these companies significantly influence what government initiatives focus on. Instead of supporting any solution that will help society transition away from fossil fuels, the government is principally supporting projects that suit big corporations. The corporations have promoted projects, which suit them and their shareholders’ needs, with inadequate recognition of policies that are most beneficial to the community.

Globally, investments in energy transition technologies have skyrocketed. In 2022, $1.3 trillion was spent worldwide on these investments, up 19% from the previous year, and 70% higher than 2019. Despite the financial support for greener energy solutions, some countries are falling behind. The UK’s average annual increase in renewable investment has been called into question as other countries are making faster progress. An article released in August 2023 noted that the UK’s average increase in renewable investment has decreased to 4.45% in the last three years. Commentators state that this is due to conservative policies around the environment. As the global average of renewable investment increases sits at 9.67%, it is clear that environmental policy needs to be addressed.

Peter Prior hopes to draw attention to these problems that only energy professionals are privy to. In the renewable energy market, government officials and corporate giants are mostly responsible for the fragmented nature of power solutions. Government policy doesn’t reflect the current obstacles in energy creation, distribution, and storage because officials are uneducated about these problems. Whether they are consciously ignoring glaring issues or not, Peter says that their naivety is costing the taxpayer and the energy user a significant amount of money.

“The UK government has decided to pick a small number of solutions,” says Peter. “The corporations should give greater consideration to balancing the interests of their shareholders with national energy security and value for money for consumers and taxpayers. The civil service should be better at appraising whether proposals are real solutions or partisan strategies to make stakeholders happy.”

The UK should include common sense solutions in its policies to reduce fossil fuel use. Those policies are unlikely to be supported by the corporations because they would not be likely to be harnessable by them.

Amid these disappointments, Peter Prior will continue advocating for change. Summerleaze has taken it upon itself to propose innovative energy solutions that can diversify current approaches. “The renewable market is solving a complicated issue,” says Peter. “Industry leaders and the government should accept a large variety of solutions, but that will not be possible until the government cuts itself free of the self-serving advice of the corporations. Currently, their overbearing power in this sector clouds the judgment of the civil service, and it’s easy to understand why. If you’re not an expert in renewable energy and the most powerful companies are telling you that one thing is the best solution, you are vulnerable to believing them.”

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