Wind, geothermal, bioenergy, and low-carbon buildings fund all have budgets cut as Whitehall faces squeeze
Details of £34m of cuts on low-carbon technology were published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today as part of £6.2bn savings across Whitehall.
The department said the Carbon Trust, which receives funding to promote the move to a low-carbon economy, would see its budget for helping green technology and businesses cut by £12.6m. There would be £1m less for developing deep geothermal energy, with the technology receiving £1m this year, DECC said.
The offshore wind capital grants scheme, which supports development of offshore wind farms, will be reduced in scope, saving £3m.
Curtailing the central government low-carbon technology programme, which aims to support efforts by Whitehall to lead the way on using low-carbon technology, would save £2.9m.
And the final funding rounds of schemes to support bio-energy, which have received £60m in investment since 2002, will be cancelled, saving £4.7m.
The Energy Saving Trust technology trials will also be closed early, saving £700,000 from the £3m programme, the department said.
Efficiency savings and under-spending on projects within the department would save £6.1m.
The department announced in May it was bringing forward the closure of the low-carbon buildings fund, which provided grants to help householders install small-scale renewables – saving £3m.
Homeowners and organisations can now take advantage of the feed-in tariff scheme which pays people for the green electricity they generate from small-scale renewables, such as solar power.
DECC, which is contributing £85m to the cross-Whitehall savings, said it would still be spending more than £150m on low-carbon technology this year.
A department spokesman said: “The whole of Whitehall is making savings; it’s only right that DECC plays its part in tackling the deficit. However, DECC will still be investing more than £150m in low-carbon technology this year.
“What’s vital is leveraging the scale of private sector investment needed – and that’s why we’re acting to bring greater certainty to the carbon price and to establish a Green Investment Bank.”
The cuts were criticised by green groups and Labour.
Ed Miliband, former climate change secretary, said: “The government is cutting support for green jobs and green industries at exactly the time we need it most. They have no plan for economic growth, just cuts. On the one hand Chris Huhne calls for a clean energy revolution but with the other he is taking away vital support that Labour delivered for green jobs and green industry. On the one hand they call for tougher carbon emissions targets but with the other they take away the means to achieve these targets.”
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, responded: “Cameron’s promises of this government being the greenest ever are beginning to crumble in the light of the Department of Energy and Climate Change cuts. We have the opportunity to grasp the industries of tomorrow in renewable energy, electric vehicles and energy-efficient business but we need government action not words.”
Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), added: “These cuts are obviously bad news for some of our member companies. These announcements could have been tempered by reassurance that Government understands the industry’s need for a clear framework moving forward. There are some key positive announcements industry is keenly awaiting on biomass and anaerobic digestion, and reassurance that the future framework for renewable heat will enable businesses to plan in the absence of grants.”
Last month, figures published by the DECC revealed that energy supplied by renewable sources, such as wind and hydro, dropped this winter, despite years of promises and policies to end the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and slash emissions.
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