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U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said wind and solar companies need to cut costs and develop the most suitable sites to win citizens over to the technology.
Clean energy projects brought in 4.7 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) of investment to the U.K. in the last year, supporting 15,000 jobs, Cameron told energy ministers from 23 nations today as the government announced a series of contracts worth 350 million pounds for companies including utility EON AG. (EOAN)
“Our commitment and investment in renewable energy has helped to make renewable energy possible,” Cameron said at the event in London overseen by U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey and his U.S. counterpart Steven Chu. “Now we have a different challenge. We need to make it financially sustainable.”
Under Cameron, who has said he wants to make his government the “greenest ever,” the U.K. cut subsidies for solar power as a surge in installations risked driving up electricity costs. At the same time, it raised targets for offshore wind installations amid the country’s first double-dip recession since the 1970s.
“The government seems to forget it needs to be affordable for consumers who are the ones left picking up the bill,” said Richard Lloyd, executive director for the Which? organization that publishes consumer advice magazines. “People tell us that soaring fuel bills are their No. 1 financial concern.”
Delegates at the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting hosted by Britain represent nations making up 80 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions and 90 percent of global clean-energy investment. They’re working on policies that boost renewable power and energy efficiency while cutting carbon emissions.
Chu, speaking to reporters after Cameron’s speech, said ministers are sharing findings on energy efficiency standards for more than 60 domestic appliances that have the potential to reduce electricity demand by about 600 terawatt-hours.
That’s “the equivalent of roughly 200 mid-size power plants” that may not have to be built, Chu said. “The acceleration of green technologies can save consumers’ money and create growth.”
Ministers agreed on six new programs, including one to bring lighting to two million people in India by the end of 2015 and an atlas of global wind and solar resources to assist in development of renewables, Davey said.
The U.K. yesterday pledged 60 million pounds to help develop carbon capture and storage projects in emerging markets, and on April 23 announced a program with the U.S. to develop floating wind turbines. The U.S. offered $180 million for four demonstration projects, while Britain pledged 25 million pounds for contractors to demonstrate the technology.
Asked about a U.S. tax credit benefitting wind power that expires this year, Chu declined to predict whether Congress will extend it, saying only that the credit is “an important part of helping renewable technologies move forward.”
Cameron’s government has supported investment in offshore wind capacity, a technology in which Britain leads the world in terms of deployment. A third of the most favorable sites in Europe are in its waters.
Britain’s economy shrank 0.2 percent in the first quarter after a 0.3 percent contraction in the final three months of last year, defying analysts’ predictions that growth had resumed following the recession in 2008 and 2009.
Today, the prime minister said renewable-energy sources are needed to drive economic growth and that the power they provide must be affordable.
“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,” Cameron said. “We urgently need a more diverse, cleaner mix of energy sources that will give us security without causing irreparable damage to the planet.”
The government is also encouraging wider use of biomass, geothermal and heat-pump technology. EON, JDR Cable Systems Holdings Ltd. and Helius Energy Plc (HEGY) are among the companies announcing investments in the U.K. alongside the ministerial meeting, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said today.
More than 20 companies are joining the Norstec group that plans to develop renewable infrastructure around the North Sea. Supporters include Scottish Power Ltd., Dong Energy A/S, Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd., Statoil ASA (STL), Statkraft AS, Siemens AG (SIE), Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA (GAM), Alstom SA (ALO), Areva SA (AREVA) and David Brown Gear Systems Ltd., the prime minister’s office said.
Energy investments confirmed today include:
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