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Davey upbeat about continued green growth

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 September 2012 at 11:27 am

The green economy is the engine of growth according to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey. Speaking yesterday at a Sustainable Energy Reception organised by RegenSW and hosted by Duncan Hames MP, he was upbeat about the contribution the renewable energy sector will make. We wouldn't be drawn on a date for the start of the RHI.

"The CBI believes that the green economy and the energy sector in particular are going to be a fundamental part of our growth over the next year, let alone over the next five or ten years. And with energy efficiency improving the competitiveness of our industries and with the investment in energy infrastructure - £110bn of investment required over the next decade - that's how central your sector is to growth.

"The green economy is not a brake on growth, it is the engine of growth.

"And we need to ensure that we give that message to everybody, and I could not be more personally committed to working with you to develop your businesses, and meet our legal targets."

Ed Davey was particularly enthusiastic about a project he helped launch in Cornwall. Cornwall Together is bringing together organisations as disparate as the county council, the Eden Project the NHS and St Austells brewery to address fuel poverty and reduce energy bills.

"Millions of pounds that was previously leaving Cornwalll is will stay in Cornwall and develop the prosperity in Cornwall," he said. "I think that is the challenge in this sort of agenda. Thinking differently, not thinking of the old ways of doing things but thinking of these new ways where we can bring things together and change the way we think about energy and we think about economies ... this is not only good for economic growth, not only good for jobs, but it will mean lower prices, lower bills. We can square the circle. We can make the green economy and renewable energy attractive to every citizen in our land."

Sometimes, he added, this means taking on vested interests. And he called on the RegenSW members present to take on this challenge with him.

Asked what the recent reshuffle the Secretary of State attempted to debunk the doom of green commentators in the media, saying that you couldn't believe everything you read in the papers.
"I believe there are friends across government. And probably if I mentioned them by name I’d be in big trouble, so I won’t, but there are friends.

"John Haynes will be working with me on renewable energy as I’ve decided I want to get more involved in renewable energy. The government is committed to this agenda and will pursue it."

Asked when we would know a start date for the domestic renewable heat incentive, Ed Davey dissembled: "We’re not far from telling you the sort of things you want to hear, we hope. There’s a date when I’m going to give a date, but it’s not today!"

He added that he'd been reading David Mackay's book Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air, over his summer holiday. "He makes a convincing analysis for the importance of renewable heat. The commitment is really strong. We’ve got to get it right. It’s not in anyone’s interest, particularly those who've got their livelihood in the industry, for us to make mistakes. We had to put right the feed-in tariff. We’ve learned an awful lot from that process. When we’re looking at new mechanisms, we want to learn the right lessons and put in place something that will last."

Asked again about naming the day, Davey finished with a gentle put down: "It sounds as if you’re interviewing for the Jeremy Paxman show, and I’m not on Newsnight tonight.

Despite the lack of a ministerial answer, two consultations, one on the domestic RHI, and another on changes to the non-domestic RHI, are widely expected to be launched in the next couple of weeks.

Less up-beat was Mark Henderson, investment director at Lloyds Development Capital. He spoke about the importance of certainty for investment, and likened the current consultation on ROCs (changes resulting from which are due to be implemented from 1 April next year), as getting in a car and driving straight at a wall and not knowing if you'll be able to get out before you hit it. Not a complement I think!

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