I recently commented on my energy blog about the success of community ownership schemes for renewables in Germany. In Germany about 46% of renewable energy schemes are owned by individuals, farmers or community co-operatives, while the 4 major German energy companies own a mere 5%. This means that as locals own the renewables, they have greater say in their deployment and directly benefit from them (e.g. a share of any subsidies). While in the UK where you so much as try to put up a flag pole and twenty seconds later theres a community action group formed to oppose it.
There have been efforts to export these policies of community ownership both to the UK and the US. However, as I describe on my blog, the major energy companies have been opposing these moves, obviously fearful of the loss of market share. For example, theyve been very slow to connect such schemes up to the grid or started charging outrageous fees to do this.
Well now the Tories have started to get in on the act. They have been increasingly accused of blocking such schemes for seemingly spurious reasons and in effect seem to be trying to covertly move the goal posts in terms of whats required to get approval for such co-operative schemes. The only people who benefit from this are the major energy companies.
And its not just a problem in the UK. Arch climate denier Tony Abbott of Australia is attempting to renege on previous commitments towards renewable energy, not because they are too costly but because theyve been too successful. Recent falls in the prices of renewables and increasing manufacturing rates means renewables in Australia are set to not only hit the target set by the previous labour government but exceed them, which clearly Abbott does not want to see happen, even though its been pointed out the only people who will benefit from these measures are Australias coal companies…how happened to donate handsomely to his campaign.
While I can understand a government reacting to changing business conditions and for example spending the same money on renewables, but demand of the companies that they install more hardware (which recent price drops should allow). But, as Ive discussed in another post on my energy blog, it beggars belief that a government would do something as anti-business as punishing a company for being too successful. Its the equivalent to, say, a train company actual hitting its targets for punctuality and then finding its reward was to not have its franchise renewed.
The negative signal such polices sent to investors seems to be that energy markets are regarded as a closed shop. Renewables, energy efficiency and anything else who might break up the cosy cartel arent welcome.