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What we’re reading: Policy vs industry, and the GOP’s climate vacuum

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It is comforting to know – or is it? – that Australia’s renewable energy market isn’t the only one in the world being blighted by policy uncertainty. According to the Guardian, a UK parliamentary report published on Thursday has found that changes in government energy policy since the last election have chased off investors and may have added £120 a year ($A230 a year) to household bills.

The Guardian says the report, Investor Confidence in the UK Energy Sector, contains statements from companies like wind turbine maker, Siemens, complaining about “apparently contradictory messages” from ministers.

These include giving local people a say over onshore wind farm planning while excluding them from shale gas projects and claiming to favour low-cost decarbonisation while halting relatively cheap onshore wind farms.

Meanwhile, ministers have slashed subsidies for wind, reduced aid to solar, ended the “green deal” energy efficiency program and cancelled a longstanding competition to build a carbon capture and UK solarstorage scheme.

Sounds eerily familiar…

Who needs subsidies, anyway?

Feeling depressed? Read on… A report from Windpower Engineering says plans have been unveiled for a community-owned wind farm in Cornwall that could become the first in the UK to operate without government subsidy.

Renewables company Good Energy says new proposals for the Big Field Wind Farm mean it could be funded solely by income from the electricity it generates. The company also plans to open up the project to local investment, making it potentially the largest community-owned wind farm in England.

“This is a bold and innovative response to the challenges laid down by government to the renewables industry since the election last year,” said Good Energy CEO and founder Juliet Davenport. “This project will give local people the chance to show their support for renewable energy, and all the benefits it brings both locally and globally, by investing in their own wind farm.”

Is there a Republican climate policy in the house?

In the US, outgoing Democrat President Barack Obama has taken the opportunity provided by the (seemingly endless) presidential primary process to remind voters that the GOP, as a party, is not interested in tackling climate change.

“(It) is not just Mr Trump,” Obama reportedly said at a mid-February news conference. “Look at the statements that are being made by the other candidates. There is not a single candidate in the Republican primary that thinks we should do anything about climate change, that thinks it’s serious. Well, that’s a problem.”

This week, Politifact decided to fact-check that claim, and here’s what they found:

“None of the remaining Republican presidential candidates have laid out a specific plan to address climate change. All of them call for scaling back Obama’s environmental regulations, to boot.

Some have called for private-sector development of renewable energy sources. Bush, who was in the race when Obama made his comment, and Kasich both have said they believe human-caused climate change is real and have said pursuing these alternative energy sources could mitigate the problem. But neither has outlined a specific plan.

For some Republican voters, this stance might be a plus. But it doesn’t change the veracity of Obama’s statement.

We rate it Mostly True.”

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