Conservative MP James Heappey has accused the renewable energy sector of riding roughshod over local councils.
Speaking at Renewable UK’s annual wave and tidal conference, Heappey said: “Onshore wind and solar industry did itself a lot of harm with its arrogance in the last Parliament.”
He added that developers had relied too heavily on then secretary of state Ed Davey’s willingness to over-ride the planning objections of local councils to their projects.
The conceit of the onshore wind and solar industries during this period led to a policy “reaction against onshore renewables which is not entirely justified,” said Heappey.
He suggested this misfortune for onshore renewables represents an opportunity for offshore technologies – including offshore wind, which he said would be a focal point within a renamed emissions reduction plan – and marine energy.
“For those in the marine sector, there is a huge opportunity to play into those who oppose onshore because we can deliver renewable energy offshore.”
Other speakers at the Renewable UK event were equally optimistic about the potential of marine energy in the UK. However, Cornish MP George Eustice had concerns that the Contract for Difference (CfD) regime will penalise the fledgling sector.
He urged government to tweak its approach.
Under the CfD framework announced in November, relatively untested tidal and marine technologies will have to compete head to head in the auctions against more established and cheaper offshore wind projects. The next auction contains £290m worth of support for emerging renewable technology projects in 2021 to 2023.
“The way the new regime has been set up has caused real concern in the industry,” Eustice said.
Speaking at the same event, business, energy and industrial strategy select (BEIS) committee chair Iain Wright said his group would look into the government’s decision not to extend current rules, which stipulate that at least 100 MW of wave and tidal projects should be supported through the CfD process.
Cameron Smith, project development director at Atlantis Resources, told the conference that he believed his company’s MeyGen Orkney tidal stream energy project could be competitive in a CfD auction.
Mark Sharrock, chief executive of Cardiff Bay-wave project backer Tidal Lagoon Power, told delegates at the event that civil servants at BEIS department had completed a “value for money assessment” of the pioneering scheme.