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Friday, 18 April 2014

PM outlines green commitment

LAST week Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in London. Here are extracts from his speech.

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CONFERENCE: Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the Clean Energy Ministerial Conference in London, alongside his Energy Secretary Ed Davey (right) Stefan Rousseau/PA

“There are huge challenges facing governments across the world today, and one of the most important of all is how we meet our growing energy demands in a way that protects our planet for our children and grandchildren. This needs urgent attention and real global leadership.

“We urgently need a more diverse, cleaner mix of energy sources that will give us energy security without causing irreparable damage to the planet. Of course, nuclear energy, cleaner coal, oil and gas, including shale gas and carbon capture and storage will all have an important role to play.

“But I passionately believe that the rapid growth of renewable energy is also vital to our future. What unites us here today is that we not only share a principled commitment to renewables but that we have also been prepared to make the up-front investments in infrastructure needed to make wind, solar and bio-energy a viable option for the first time.

“Renewables are now the fastest growing energy source on the planet. And I am proud that Britain has played a leading role at the forefront of this green energy revolution.

“When I became Prime Minister, I said that Britain would have the greenest government ever. And that is exactly what we have. Today, we are one of the best places for green energy, for green electricity, for green investment and crucially for green jobs anywhere in the world.

“We have the world’s first payments to business for generating renewable heat. The world’s first dedicated green investment bank. A pioneering Carbon Capture and Storage Programme. The largest offshore wind market in the world.

“We are putting energy efficiency where it should be, at the heart of our energy policy – including by introducing our flagship Green Deal programme.

“And we are getting to grips with our electricity market, making the long term reforms necessary to attract investment into a balanced portfolio of new nuclear, gas, clean coal and renewable generation.

“As a result Britain has gone from virtually no capacity for renewables, to seeing them provide almost 10 per cent of our total electricity needs last year. And we’ve added more capacity for renewables in the last two years than at any time in the last decade.

“This deliberate investment in renewable energy isn’t just good for our environment. It’s good for our business too. In the last year alone we’ve seen announcements of £4.7bn of investment in UK renewables supporting 15,000 new jobs – including plans for several major new factories around our coast to help build the equipment and infrastructure needed for the next generation of offshore wind and marine energy. And just today six companies are announcing major progress on biomass and wind projects in the UK representing hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, more than a thousand gigawatts of new capacity and as many as 800 jobs during the peak of construction in the next few years.

“Our commitment and investment in renewable energy has helped to make renewable energy possible. Now we have a different challenge. We need to make it financially sustainable.

“For that to happen, we need to do three things. First, we need to get costs down. At a time when higher gas prices are leaving families and businesses struggling with their energy bills and when we are fighting to get to grips with our debts we don’t just need greener energy – we need cheaper energy too.

“Today renewable energy is still relatively expensive. But government and industry are together proving that we can get costs down quickly. Already, solar costs have halved in two years. Onshore wind costs are falling too. And we are this week stepping up our efforts with industry to bring down the cost of offshore wind. As those costs fall so it is right that consumers should pay less in subsidies for new projects. I really believe that more mature renewable technologies can be among our cheapest energy sources within years, not decades. That’s good for consumers. Good for our economy and good for our environment.

“Second, we need to make renewable energy a viable proposition globally. That means developing a proper global carbon price so that different energy sources can compete on a level playing field. Britain has the biggest generating potential for offshore renewables in Europe. We need a way of getting this power to where the demand is. So trading is something Britain is determined to lead. We are driving a European-wide initiative to link our energy grids.

“If we can do three things – get the costs down, make renewable energy a global business and continue to invest up front in the crucial infrastructure needed then we really can secure the future of renewables, alongside other energy sources, as a vital part of our energy supply.

“And with it we can help to create jobs, growth and – in the words of the United Nations Secretary General – sustainable energy for all.”

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