Could Brexit spell disaster for the UK offshore wind industry

What are the possible implication of a Brexit on the renewable energy industry in the UK and particularly the future of the offshore renewable energy industry?

The Renewables Consulting Group (RCG) have recently delivered a focus study analysing the implications of a Brexit and strongly believe the offshore wind sector could be adversely affected should the UK decide to vote to leave the EU.

Current estimates show the UK level regulation is nearly 2.5 times more cost effective than EU regulation however leaving the EU would likely leave the UK with very little influence over EU energy regulation but at the same time largely regulated by it.

The RCG believe the 2020 and 2030 renewable energy targets are likely to be unachievable if the UK were to leave the EU. Dr Steve Freeman, head of the public sector practice at RCG and the principal investigator for the report, said: “Today, the offshore wind industry is estimated to contribute over £1 billion to the UK economy; a figure predicted to grow significantly by 2020. Our research shows a Brexit is likely to put the UK’s 2020 and 2030 renewables targets under threat, and with it further uncertainty on the future sustainability of the industry.

Energy and the environment are and will remain key factors within EU legislation. If the UK does exit the government will need to ensure close relationship remains and policies are alligned with the EU to retain its current influence “Whilst the full impact of a ‘Brexit’ is difficult to predict, it is well understood that energy and the environment are key pillars of EU legislation, and have, over time, intricately bolstered every facet of UK energy law and policy. If Britain exits, the government needs to maintain close co-operation and policy alignment with the EU to leverage its competitive edge and retain its current influence as a market leader in renewable energy.Dr Freeman went on to say: “Eurosceptics argue that the EU sets over-ambitious environmental and climate targets with inflexible energy policies that burden UK industries. Yet, despite the rhetoric, the evidence to remain in the EU shows that energy policy, climate and environmental regulation remain fundamental drivers to future growth, and without them the renewables industry will be at risk from regulatory divergence.”With no precedent set for member states to leave, failure to understand the implications of a Brexit on the offshore wind industry and nascent marine renewables sector (wave and tidal power) could be costly, says RCG. The seemingly simple decision to ‘leave’ or ‘stay’ is a complex one and finding its answers opaque. With time running out, the implications of a Brexit to the future of the offshore wind industry and marine renewables and its supporting environmental legislation hangs in the balance, it believes.

The report will be delivered by the end of April, and will present a balanced review of the current state of play, the successes and failures of EU energy policy in relation to offshore renewables and on the pros and cons of leaving or staying.

Read more here

Source: Offshore Wind Journal

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