Chris Huhne speech: industry reaction

I wrote below about whether the industry would get what it wanted from Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, in his speech to the Liberal Democrats today. Now his brief but initiative-packed speech is over, did they get what they wanted?

Roger Salomone, energy adviser at EEF, wanted to see reassurances over nuclear power. This is what Huhne said:

I’m fed up with the stand-off between renewable and nuclear which means we have neither – we will have both. We will have low-carbon energy, and security of supply.

And EEF’s reaction:

Given the audience that was a reassuring message on nuclear power from our perspective. He linked nuclear power to some positive things, like energy security and tackling climate change.

First thumbs up then.

Mish Tullar of Centrica, wanted fast and broad implementation of the “green new deal”. Huhne started his speech on the subject, saying:

I will be intoducing it before the end of the year… Every home will be better off with the green deal than without it… And going into commercial premises too, so that small businesses also save money.”

Tullar says:

It was very welcome how much Huhne focused on that, although we would have liked to have heard that there was a particular time line, and we didn’t hear that. Particularly welcome was the reference that they are looking at the opportunity to extend the green deal to comercial properties.

Broadly positive, if with some reservations.

Leonie Greene of the Renewable Energy Association wanted to hear a commitment to the renewable heat incentive. But Huhne failed to focus on it. Although she was positive about aspects of the speech, she was les impressed with that omission:

Heat is half the problem, as it is half the UK’s energy use, and we would have liked to hear more about it. It is Groundhog Day for heat to be forgotten.

The first negative reaction.

Nick Medic of RenewableUK wanted a commitment to spending on ports infrastructure. This is what Huhne said:

I want to see [offshore wind] all over the country.

Medic says:

We were told that the official statement would be made in the spending review, but we were hopeful that we would get something a bit more concrete than what Huhne said today.

Disappointed perhaps.

And finally, the Labour reaction, from Huhne’s shadow, Ed Miliband:

Chris Huhne has let down those who believed the coalition’s pledge to be the greenest government ever. No money for the green investment bank, no upgrade of the ports that are so vital for our offshore wind industry, no commitment to clean energy cashback for electricty or heat. And no plan to tackle fuel poverty.

I don’t think it’s fair to count that response in the final positive and negatives tally however, leaving Huhne with two broadly positive reactions and two broadly negative ones.

NB – RenewablesUK have asked us to point out they are not “broadly negative” on Huhne’s speech and are still hopeful that a commitment will be made to the ports infrastructure funding. I should say that when I said broadly negative I meant on the one specific main priority that each organisation raised – that does not necessarily mean they were negative or positive on the speech as a whole. I’m happy to make that clear.

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