By Emily Marshall, Associate Director
Over the years I have spoken to many people about their views on renewable energy whilst consulting on the various plans and proposals for large scale wind and solar developments. There has always been a general consensus that the earth’s climate is changing due to anthropogenic factors and that we should do something about it. The debate has continued as to what, exactly, that something is.
Renewable energies have been criticised as being:
expensive, inefficient, requiring subsidies, intermittent and ugly. A few remarkable things have happened in a relatively short period of time to help counter these criticisms.
The price of wind and solar technologies has dropped significantly, with costs of renewable technologies worldwide having decreased by 60%. Rapid cost reductions and technological improvements mean government financial support is not needed. By 2020 the cost of renewables is set to be less than the current power price. There is no longer a trade-off between low carbon and low cost.
What’s more, wind turbine blades are now harnessing the same power from 10knots as they did before with 20knots, setting the stage for unprecedented growth.
What about intermittency? The issue of storage has long been the Holy Grail of renewable energy. ‘Grid scale’ battery installation is now happening across the UK.
Battery storage is also a key government R&D area, with the Government poised to invest £246m.
There’s still an (ugly?) elephant in the room…
Strong public opposition often accompanies proposals for schemes being announced. Counter Context delivers effective consultation and engagement to increase understanding and acceptance in communities. This year, we have facilitated 20 public consultation events around Norfolk for the world’s largest offshore wind farm. We have undertaken robust research and communications planning for a client in the solar industry and are ready to roll out the first stage of public consultation for a large scale solar farm.
All projects have risks. We work with our clients to reduce those risks by building understanding and trust, and deliver successful schemes with local support.
On the horizon for this sector is the outcome of responses to the industrial strategy green paper and how developers will deliver against ambitious price bids in the latest CfD auction. Finally, we are investigating what future government support will look like, following HM Treasury’s announcement that it would abolish the Levy Control Framework.