Ed Miliband: no political party is doing enough on climate change, calls for return of onshore wind
23 November 2018
Posted by: Rob Norris
In a keynote speech at RenewableUK’s 40th anniversary celebration in London last night, the former Labour party leader Ed Miliband MP, who passed the Climate Change Act while he was Energy Secretary, said: “We need to end the prejudice in public policy against onshore wind”.
Mr Miliband also called for political bravery and stated that climate change “isn’t high enough on the agenda of any political party”. He asked “Will we be the first generation to get it or the last generation to not get it?", noting that the scale of the challenge is huge but that public opinion and the economics are on the side of bold action to respond to climate change.
RenewableUK Chairman Stephen Bull, Senior Vice President (Wind and Carbon Capture and Storage) at Equinor said:
“We have seen unprecedented growth in renewables. It’s a $300bn industry and the UK is an international success story for defining a clear pathway to a low carbon economy.
“Renewable energy will touch the lives of more and more people, in broader parts of the economy. From the way we heat our homes, to the cars we drive, to the cities we plan to the digital jobs of the future. It’s happening today, and our membership is part of this economic and societal transformation”.
The event was sponsored by RES. In her speech, the company’s Head of External Affairs Rachel Anderson said:
“In the last forty years we’ve seen renewables move from the margins to the mainstream. We’ve cracked the energy trilemma, as there is no longer a trade-off between cheap energy and clean energy.
“Renewable power is now the most cost-effective energy source. This moment is a tipping point for the industry and there’s significant growth potential for renewables, including onshore wind - particularly as the market grows, with the need to electrify heat and transport”.
In a series of videos to mark the anniversary, the ‘founding fathers’ of RenewableUK have been sharing their recollections of the establishment of the British Wind Energy Association, as it then was, in 1978.
Professor Leon Freris recalled that “We were 7 or 8 of us who started the British Wind Energy Association and it was a group of pioneers, I suppose, and idealists who actually had the hope that they worked in an area which was going, eventually, to provide humanity with clean and abundant energy.”
Fellow founder Prof Peter Fraenkel recalls “The biggest challenge, really, was the scepticism of the ‘energy establishment’. There was a general lack of belief, I think, that wind power would ever be anything which could seriously be used for powering the grid”
”We had quite an uphill struggle in the early days to try and convince, for example, the Central Gas and Electricity Generation Board. The CEGB started off very sceptical but eventually they came round and were very supportive but that process demanded quite a lot of work from the enthusiasts and the people who were trying to promote wind energy.”
In September, RenewableUK announced that the UK had reached a historic milestone of 20 gigawatts of wind generation capacity. The opening of Ørsted’s 659MW Walney Extension off the coast of Cumbria pushed the total amount over the 20GW mark, which is enough to meet the annual power needs of more than 14 million homes, cutting carbon emissions by 25 million tonnes a year.
Wind is the UK’s largest source of renewable electricity, accounting for half of the 30% of power that comes from renewable sources.
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RenewableUK’s members are building our future energy system, powered by clean electricity. We bring them together to deliver that future faster; a future which is better for industry, billpayers, and the environment. We support over 400 member companies to ensure increasing amounts of renewable electricity are deployed across the UK and access markets to export all over the world. Our members are business leaders, technology innovators, and expert thinkers from right across industry.
We are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year.
A photo of Ed Miliband speaking at last night event is available – please email: Robert.Norris@RenewableUK.com