Month: November 2015

Fact Check 8: Jobs lost in onshore wind


Read Full Fact report: How many jobs could be lost in onshore wind?

As someone who has lost their job as a result of the Government unpicking any support for renewables, I was itching to read this.  I came away feeling a tad underwhelmed to be honest.  Of course Full Fact rely on facts, and in reality, there’s no data to show any impacts so it can’t be anything other than inconclusive.

I’ve worked in the onshore wind industry for nearly 10 years, and know that the vast majority of the 11,000 employed within who still have jobs are not likely to have a job for much longer.  The other 8,000 jobs supporting the onshore wind supply chain are naturally going to fall away as well.

For me, the real disappointment is that this attack on onshore wind and small scale renewables decimates the smaller independent companies who develop and operate worthwhile projects the big guys aren’t interested in.  Not just developers like Airvolution, but manufacturers like Mabey Bridge in Chepstow who employed 120 people making turbine towers, that closed in September (they’re concentrating on bridges now).

Even if there was data to show it, would the 19,000 jobs in onshore wind receive a fraction of the attention those 1,700 jobs got from the Redcar steel plant closure?


Fact Check 7: The UK’s renewable energy target

View Full Fact report:  The UK’s renewable energy target

Blah blah blah, Renewable Energy Directive. Blah blah blah, binding EU targets. 

I think that’s what most people see when this is written about. It’s guaranteed to prompt a general sense of outrage when mentioned at public exhibitions for proposed wind farms.  But most people see the case for every country doing their fair share, and applaud some joined up thinking.

In a nutshell, EU countries have got targets for renewable generation, and ours is 15% of energy (which includes electricity, heat and transport) from renewables by 2020.  We’ve even got interim targets to make sure everyone’s on track as we reach 2020 (we’re on track so far, according to Full Fact).

But with four years left, and the carpet just ripped out from under renewables’ feet, can we keep up momentum?  Personally, I’d think “No”.  The European Commission has suggested that the UK is off track.

But what happens if we don’t hit the target?

The consequences are not really clear, and if they come, it would be a slow and costly beast for all involved.

It’s important for us, as residents of the UK, to insist our Government sticks to the target rather than wait for the long hand of the EC to take action.

In 2012, four member states (Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Slovenia) didn’t show legislation adequate to implement the policy, so the EC issued them with a warning letter giving 2 months to comply or they “may” face referral to the Court of Justice. It must have worked, because they did it.

Of course, if the UK leaves the EU then meeting these targets won’t be an issue for Government to worry about.

FACT CHECK 6:  Are we missing our targets on renewable energy?

View Full Fact report:  Are we missing our targets on renewable energy?

Liz McInnes, Labour MP and Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Andrea Leadsom*, had differing views on the UK’s progress in generating 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The good news is, we’re on track and have met our interim target of 5.4%.  The bad news is, the European Commission has suggested we might not meet the 2020 targets.

The “energy” referred to comprises of electricity, heat and transport.  Electricity generation has made up the bulk of this so far, so when Government slash renewable electricity as they have done, we should be expecting to see some positive priority being placed upon heat and transport… any day now… but I’m sure no-one is holding their breath for it!

* Don’t worry everyone, she’s not a climate change denier anymore.

FACT CHECK 5: What do Brits think about wind farms?

View Full Fact report: What do Brits think about wind farms?

So Full Fact have found that Onshore Wind isn’t the most popular renewable technology, as stated by Caroline Flint MP.

I have to admit I’m disappointed that in their report, Full Fact don’t mention attitudes towards non-renewable technology.  Admittedly, it wasn’t part of the fact being investigated, but I think it provides important context.  So allow me to briefly do so….

Not many people know that since 2012 DECC have done a quarterly survey to find out what people think about electricity generation – asking around 2,000 different people the same questions each quarter.  I think it’s a very revealing sample of what the UK really think.

You can check out all the data on this DECC page, but what is most interesting to me is that over three years, support for Onshore Wind has consistently been between 64-70%.  Compare this to nuclear which has ranged between 33-42%.

A question on attitudes towards shale gas was introduced in February 2014, and so far has shown support within the range of 21-29%.

The latest DECC survey released on 4 August, mysteriously removed the questions on renewable energy.  We can see why they did that now, but how uncomfortable for the Government to justify culling the forms of electricity generation that its own data showed was the most popular?  And since Full Fact have also shown that onshore wind is cheaper than nuclear….

If any political party or politician had a consistent approval rating of over 65% for three years wouldn’t they be delighted?!