In his Autumn Budget, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond confirmed that there would be no fresh funds for new renewable energy projects levied through electricity bills until 2025 to help keep energy costs down.
It said: "In order to protect consumers, the government will not introduce new low-carbon electricity levies until the burden of [energy] costs are falling. On the basis of the current forecast, this means there will be no new low-carbon electricity levies until 2025. All existing commitments will be respected."
UK trade body Renewable Energy Association (REA) said it welcomed the move to a subsidy-free future, but argued that the industry needed urgent clarity on how the government is planning to bring new projects forward, especially for less developed technologies like tidal and advanced waste-to-energy.
The REA called for clarity around carbon pricing after the government offered little detail on the future of the country's tax on carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. The government said it was confident the carbon price, currently £18 per tonne, was set at the right price.
REA head of policy and external affairs James Court said: “The UK government seem to be turning their back on renewables by announcing no new support for projects post 2020 and a freeze on carbon taxes. This could see a hiatus in much needed infrastructure development. Considering this is coming only a couple of months after the much vaunted Clean Growth Plan, it’s hugely disappointing.”
Other environmental commitments from the Budget included £200 million (€224m) of funding for a new Charging Investment infrastructure Fund for ultra-low emissions vehicles, electrifying 25% of cars in central government fleets by 2022, and a further £100m to guarantee the operation of the Plug-In Car Grant to allow consumers to purchase electric cars until at least 2020.
Elsewhere, the sale of new diesel cars that do not meet latest emissions standards will face a one-off tax increase in April. It will be levied on all diesels that do not meet the Real Driving Emissions Step 2 standards on emissions for the first year of ownership.