Industry "unsettled" and "disappointed" after DECC gets axed

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been axed by new Prime Minister Theresa May.
Energy policy will now be decided by the newly-created Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, headed up by Greg Clark – Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
“I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change,” Clark commented.
So how will this affect the energy industry?
Phil Hurley, Managing Director at renewable heating manufacturer NIBE, brands the surprise decision as ‘unsettling’, especially in the context of the RHI – and reiterates the importance of building a market that can thrive without subsidies:
“Yesterday’s announcement about the abolition of DECC was unexpected, to say the least. Following the welcome boost provided by the launch of the RHI in 2014, this decision could throw the industry into a renewed state of uncertainty. It would be wrong to say that we at NIBE have no concerns about the potential implications of this for renewable heat in the UK – particularly as it comes during a pivotal RHI consultation period. However, regardless of the political situation, the long-term cost- and energy-saving benefits of renewable heating technologies are inescapable.
“The fact remains that the UK is legally bound by statute to honour its 2030 carbon reduction targets, and technologies like heat pumps will be integral to ensuring this happens. That said, yesterday’s news does leave plenty of room for speculation about the specific focus of the government’s future energy strategy. While the prime minister made it clear in her speech that fuel security and lower bills will be key priorities, what was noticeably absent was any mention of decarbonisation – and at NIBE, we find this potentially unsettling.
“As a leading manufacturer, we urge the newly formed cabinet not to overlook the vital importance of demand-side reduction in shrinking our collective carbon footprint in line with targets. Outside Parliament, we’re asking the renewable heating industry not to lose focus. Yes, the RHI and other government initiatives have been major market drivers – but what we need to do now is pull together to ensure renewables flourish on their own merit. At NIBE, we remain fully committed to their capabilities, and their role in building a lower-carbon future for the UK.”
Former Labour Leader and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Milliband, was also worried by the decision. He tweeted:
“DECC abolition just plain stupid. Climate not even mentioned in new dept. title. Matters because depts shape priorities shape outcomes.”
Isaac Occhipinti, Head of External Affairs, EUA said: “We are disappointed that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been moved. At a time when industry is looking to the Government for some certainty and continuity this won’t help. However we recognise the links between energy and industrial strategy and so we are looking forward to working with Greg Clark and his new team on decarbonising UK heat and exploring how green gas can help us meet our 2050 climate targets.”
However, the future could be bright for solar. Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, commented:
“It is a great shame that a department directly focused on the critical issues of energy and climate change is to close, but a joined up business, industrial strategy and energy approach could provide huge opportunities for solar in the UK, as can be seen in many countries across the world.
“We’re pleased to welcome Greg Clark as the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and look forward to working constructively with him over the coming weeks and months to develop a clear industrial strategy and policy roadmap for the solar industry.”
Commenting in response to the closure of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Jeff House, regulatory marketing manager at Baxi Heating, said:
“The disbanding of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has already been faced with scepticism from some observers, however the changes afoot indicate a positive outlook for the future of climate change and the decarbonisation of the UK in the long run.
“Since it was instated, DECC has successfully pushed climate change to the forefront of the political agenda, making positive and permanent steps to developing and implementing policy on the energy trilemma. Despite the impact that the department has had in terms of putting the energy issue into the mainstream, the latest development should be viewed as the next crucial and necessary step to reaching our carbon targets.
“The merge with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will create a united force for markets, investors and consumers, and should allow the issue of decarbonisation to better tie up with infrastructure, innovation and policy initiatives. This could create a stronger base for us to propel the issues highlighted by DECC forward and make significant changes for a greater impact.
“We’re positive about Greg Clark pushing forward with the current decarbonisation agenda. While it’s still early days and there’s work to be done in determining where DECC’s areas of responsibility will fit into the new department, we are optimistic about this new appointment and interested to see how this will develop and impact on the energy sector in the future.”

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