U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said wind and solar companies must focus on cutting costs and developing the most suitable sites to make their technology palatable to the public.
He also said clean energy projects have drawn 4.7 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) of investment into the U.K. in the last year, supporting 15,000 energy jobs. The government announced a series of new contracts worth 350 million pounds led by one granted by the utility EON.
“Our commitment and investment in renewable energy has helped to make renewable energy possible,” Cameron told energy ministers from 23 nations today in London. “Now we have a different challenge. We need to make it financially sustainable.”
The comments were aimed at highlighting the benefits of Cameron’s ambition to make his government the “greenest ever”after the U.K. economy tipped into its first double-dip recession since the 1970s. Ministers have scaled back subsidies for solar power after a surge in installations threatened to drive up electricity costs.
“The government seems to forget it needs to be affordable for consumers who are the ones left picking up the bill,” said Richard Lloyd, executive director for the Which? organization that publishes consumer advice magazines. “People tell us that soaring fuel bills are their No. 1 financial concern.”
Delegates at the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting hosted by Britain represent nations that account for 80 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions and 90 percent of global clean-energy investment. They’re working on policies that boosts renewable.
Britain’s economy shrank 0.2 percent in the first quarter after a 0.3 percent contraction in the final three months of last year, defying analysts’ predictions that growth had resumed following the recession in 2008 and 2009.
Cameron’s government has supported investment in offshore wind capacity while curtailing subsidies for solar power plants after incentives led to a boom in installations. Today, the prime minister will stress that renewable-energy sources are needed to drive the economy and that the power they provide must be affordable.
“There are huge challenges facing governments across the world today, and one of the most important of all is how we meet our growing energy demands,” Cameron said, according to a text released by his office today. “We urgently need a more diverse, cleaner mix of energy sources that will give us security without causing irreparable damage to the planet.”
Britain is leading the world in deploying offshore wind turbines, and a third of the most favorable sites in Europe are in its waters. It’s also encouraging wider use of biomass, geothermal and heat-pump technology.
EON, JDR Cable Systems Holdings Ltd. and Helius Energy Plc (HEGY)are among the companies announcing more investments in U.K. renewable-energy projects alongside the ministerial meeting, according to a statement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The government said more than 20 companies are joining an entity called Norstec that’s aiming to develop the renewable infrastructure around the North Sea. Early supporters include Scottish Power Ltd., Dong Energy A/S, Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd., Statoil ASA (STL), Statkraft AS, Siemens AG (SIE), Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA (GAM), Alstom SA (ALO), Areva SA (AREVA) and David Brown Gear Systems Ltd., according to the prime minister’s office.