Dale Vince, a pioneer of the UK renewable energy industry and founder of green energy company Ecotricity, has accused the British government of corrupting the market in an attempt to scupper green energy in favour of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
The criticism comes as RenewableUK, the industry’s trade association, announced that 25.3% of the country’s electricity was produced by green energy sources in the second quarter of this year – more than coal (20.5%) and nuclear power (21.5%).
Ecotricity supplies nearly 170,000 British customers with electricity generated by wind and solar power.
Mr Vince is calling on the government to do away with the subsidies it grants nuclear power and fossil fuels in order to create an equal opportunities market, since it has decided to cut funding for renewable energy projects already.
He pointed out that despite the fact that green energy sources are operating without government subsidies, they had still managed to outperform both nuclear and coal industries for the first time.
He said: “Renewable energy receives one-tenth of the support that fossil fuels do, yet powers 25 per cent of the country. And the government says only renewable energy has to stand on its own two feet. It makes no economic sense. Britain is blessed with enough renewable energy to power our entire country several times over, safely, without pollution, and at the lowest cost of all energy sources.”
Mr Vince also pointed out that the International Monetary Fund recorded UK subsidies for fossil fuel industries in Britain at £30 billion annually, which is more than £1,000 per household per year.
However, support for renewable energy sources only numbered at £2.6 billion last year, at around £100 per household.
“Unfortunately, the government appears ideologically opposed to renewable energy and has moved to put a stop to this incredible success story,” he said.
“It is not just cutting all support and increasing planning hurdles,” he added, “but even going so far as to make renewable energy pay the Climate Change Levy, which is (or was) a tax on fossil fuels to fund climate change measures. Renewable energy in Britain now effectively subsidises the fossil fuel industry – to the tune of £1 billion every year.”
Last week the government announced that it would pay an extra £2 billion to encourage China to build a new nuclear power station in the west of England.
According to Vince, the plans also include buying power from the plant for twice the market price for the next 35 years, and then there is the added cost of cleaning up the “mess left behind”.
The government plans to supplement it’s aging fleet of nuclear power stations with a new Chinese one has been met with widespread criticism from the energy industry and investment banks alike.
In tandem with this move to increase the UK’s nuclear energy industry, the government is also making moves to begin exploiting possible shale gas reserves.
Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd said that creating a fracking industry is an important part of the government’s plans to “decarbonise the economy”.
Policy in the UK seems to be in contrast to global trends however, with the worldwide renewable energy sector doubling in size in the last 10 years.