The Conservative party manifesto contained limited details on what we can expect. There have been a few announcement from Decc and Defra post the election, which give an indication of the likely direction of travel, but what we do not have are any specific details.

The Queen’s speech at the end of May did not disclose any more detail which leads me to think we are not going to see any groundbreaking ‘new’ announcements. Instead, I think it will be a case of steady as she goes for the next five years while we maintain the same course and speed in terms of energy and climate change policy.

We know that combating climate change is still high on the agenda and has the support of all political parties. Energy efficiency and power sector decarbonisation are also priorities. The Conservatives have however said they will not support additional distorting and expensive power sector targets.
When it comes to renewables, the Conservatives say they will support technologies that represent clear value for money.

They have promised to halt the spread of onshore windfarms, ending any new public subsidy for the technology. This stance conflicts with the SNP’s plans and is particularly problematic as the majority of onshore windfarms in the pipeline are planned in Scotland. I expect this to be an area of control devolved to the SNP and Hollyrood.

The Conservatives have also committed to continue supporting the safe development of shale gas and to create a sovereign wealth fund for the north of England. They have also promised to continue supporting North Sea oil.

So while the government are not planning anything radical, what influence will the global market and Europe have? What other factors could influence UK policy and legislation?

We have the impending UN climate change talks in Paris in December. At an EU level the EU ETS is subject to ongoing review. We also have the 20/20/20 package that requires Member States to ensure 20% of their energy comes from renewable sources by 2020 and to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. This package and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is subject to an ongoing review as part of the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. The outcome of the RED review should be known next year.

At a national level the government’s approach is dictated by the Climate Change Act 2008 which committed the UK to reduce green house gas emissions by 80% by 2050 against a 1990 baseline.

This breaks down to a more immediate goal of a 25% reduction against the same baseline by 2025. The influence of the Climate Change Committee’s review of progress against these targets and NGO pressure will be key.

As we all know the UK government’s existing focus is split between energy generation and energy consumption in both the commercial and residential settings. As we have seen there is no evidence of a raft of new proposals being introduced post the election. What is more likely is the ongoing implementation of existing proposals and initiatives with a few tweaks around the edges as well as the rationalisation and reform of existing measures.
The Electricity Market Reforms (EMR) have been broadly welcomed although there have been a few teething problems with contracts for difference. No doubt we will see a few refinements to improve the existing system.

New nuclear is still very much part of the mix with the Hinkley Point C development leading the way.

Shale gas and fracking dropped off the political agenda pre election purely because it was a vote loser. Now the election is out of the way, fracking has made a come back and the government has said it is full steam ahead with its fracking plans. This will include certain legislative changes to make it easier for operators to access shale gas in sensitive locations. The decision from Lancashire County Council in relation to Cuadrilla plans is expected very shortly. I would be very surprised if they were not given the green light. Cuadrilla’s plans will pave the way for the more wide scale roll out of fracking across England and Wales with the results of the most recent Decc licensing round expected soon.

A commitment in the Conservative party manifesto was to support low cost measures on energy efficiency, however, with the Green Deal stumbling how realistic is this goal.

So my expectation is more of the same with a business friendly, economy focused, approach to renewables and decarbonisation, with the government acting only where they have to, or where there are very clear demonstrable financial benefits.