Industry professionals have recently warned that the UK's ambitious target of slashing carbon emissions by more than half within 13 years is at risk because of the government stalling on energy policy.
A survey by the Energy Institute, the professional body for the energy sector, has found that four fifths of its members believe the UK is currently on track to miss the 2030 goal.
“The mood among our members is that energy policy is on pause and ministers need to hit the play button,” said Louise Kingham, chief executive of the Energy Institute.
Among the list of stalled government decisions are the fate of a multimillion-pound competition to build mini nuclear power plants and whether to strike a subsidy deal for a pioneering tidal lagoon at Swansea.
A flagship plan on how to meet the UK’s 2030 target of cutting emissions by 57% compared to 1990 levels, originally expected last year, is now “long overdue,” Kingham added.
Jim Skea, the president of the institute, said of the delayed Clean Power Plan: “If we’re going to keep on track [with binding carbon targets] there is an urgent need to get that published.”
The departure of energy minister Nick Hurd is seen as a blow to the plan, designed to set out how the government will tackle the huge shortfall in carbon cuts identified by its advisers.
The group’s annual Energy Barometer report said Brexit was a new and “material concern” for further uncertainty.
However, perception of risks from energy policy was slightly reduced from last year, when industry was suffering the fallout from the flurry of changes after the Conservatives took power in 2015, cutting renewables, carbon capture and energy efficiency programmes.
Post Brexit, the professionals largely want to keep EU energy and climate laws, such as the energy efficiency and renewable energy directives, the survey found. However, more wanted to scrap or abandon state aid rules than retain them.
The group’s members oppose an energy price cap which many thought would hurt investment. But they favoured stronger action on energy efficiency – such as better building standards – as the best way to meet carbon targets and restore trust in the industry.
The institute’s leaders also highlighted the need to begin decarbonising heat for homes and business. They said the government had been slow to look at alternatives to natural gas, because alternatives such as hydrogen or electrification were seen as harder than ways for cutting emissions from power, such as windfarms.
As a result, the group’s members thought the contribution from gas for heating would only decline modestly by 2030.
“It’s this gap on things like energy efficiency and a heat policy – that’s the real thing that will hold back investment and grow the uncertainty,” said Skea.
* This news was originally published in The Guardian.