By Gemma Childe on 22nd Jun 2012
Subsidies for onshore wind turbines and solar panels are expected to have disappeared by the end of the decade.
Within weeks, the Lib Dem Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, will announce details of subsidies for renewable energy covering the period 2013-2017, following a consultation on whether they should be cut by more than 10 per cent.
The news is likely to spark protests both from the green lobby and from electricity firms which benefit from the subsidies. Ministers claim that the falling cost of renewable energy generation will mean it no longer requires subsidies.
In a recent email, Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister, told Terry Stewart, the president of the Dorset branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE): “I anticipate that subsidies for both solar photovoltaic and onshore wind will come down to zero over the next few years and should have disappeared by 2020, since both of these forms of energy are gradually becoming economic without the need for subsidies.”
Just days after the 2010 election, the Prime Minister pledged to lead the “greenest government ever", but has been accused of sacrificing the drive towards clean energy as part of austerity measures.
A source close to Mr Davey told The Telegraph: “It is very important that we don’t send out mixed messages to investors.
“Our support for renewables attracts a lot of investment and jobs to Britain – jobs we badly need at the moment.”
There are currently more than 3,000 onshore wind turbines in Britain, with another 4,500 expected to go up.
Overall subsidies paid out to renewable energy producers amount to around £1.5 billion a year.
John Constable, director of the UK charity Renewable Energy Foundation, and a long-term critic of subsidies to renewables, said: “Extremely high subsidies have harmed the reputation and integrity of the renewables sector, which has been corrupted by easy money and undeserved fortunes."