Ashden

Ashden is a charity that rewards, supports and promotes pioneering sustainable energy organisations that are transforming lives and tackling climate change in the UK and across the globe.

Through our Annual Awards scheme we uncover and reward the people and organisations from across the developing world and the UK who are pioneering sustainable energy solutions that bring social, economic and environmental benefits .

Ashden and its UK programme helps support and expand our winners work as well as spreading their knowledge and best practice to encourage others to follow in their example. We have helped to established our UK Alumni Network, the LESS CO2 programme for schools and the Fit for the Future Network for property owners to encourage the sharing of their knowledge.

Who are our winners?

Since 2001 Ashden has awarded 189 sustainable energy pioneers across the globe. These have included; SMEs to large corporations with over 1500 staff; social enterprises and not-for-profit groups; and schools and public sector organisations across the UK . Our alumni represent a broad spectrum of different organisations working on sustainable energy from the smallest grassroots projects looking to scale up, to large multinational businesses with a global reach.

In the UK our alumni know the industry better than anyone; with a combined experience of over 720 years, they work across electricity and heat generation; energy efficiency retrofits; behaviour change; facilitating financial models; travel; building management and building design and have seen the sector landscape change over time. They characterise the sector, from small start-ups to companies with annual turnovers of over £100 million, all working to accelerate our transition to a low carbon economy.

Many thanks to all our winners for their valuable insight and time taken in contributing to this report.

Executive Summary

The UK policy environment for sustainable energy has been facing a number of challenges over the last nine months. These have included long-standing policies coming to an end often with short consultation periods, making it difficult for the sustainable energy sector to adapt.

Ashden’s UK Award winners work in every aspect of the sustainable energy industry and are well placed to comment on the damaging effects these changes are having, both immediate and to future business prospects. We conducted a survey to understand better how they are being affected.

  • Over 50% of respondents reported present or future loss of business owing to the policy changes within the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
  • Businesses and investors cannot plan for the future if a government is to change policy in this manner, a fact underlined by the UK dropping to 11th place from 8th in Ernst & Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index. The UK was once a pioneer in the sector, but we now find ourselves being questioned publicly by a host of authoritative figures.
  • Nearly 50% stated there have been or will be negative effects on staffing levels within their organisation. The Government’s own figures predict job losses of up to 19,000 across solar and wind due to changes in FiT policy.
  • 47% said they are reviewing their business model and looking to diversify, including moving away from electricity generation and looking to Europe for business.
  • Respondents raised concerns about the fervent focus on the ‘dash for gas’ and new nuclear at the expense of investment in clean energies.
  • Our EU target to reach 15% of energy consumption by 2020 from renewable sources looks increasingly out of reach, especially as the policy environment surrounding heat and transport is looking decidedly unambitious.

Ashden Award winners were working towards their goals in what they thought was a stable policy environment, only to have much of it reversed. These policy changes will be felt throughout local communities that will see loss of jobs, loss of investment, and loss of community benefit funds.

Ashden would urge the present government to reconsider the pace and direction of changes being implemented and to reassert support for renewable technologies in order to improve investor confidence and deliver on the UK’s commitment to meeting our carbon reduction targets. Specific recommendations include:

  • Clarifying the details of and confirming the timetable for the next round of Contract for Difference auctions.
  • Tapering the Feed-in Tariffs more slowly to allow the renewables industry to reach subsidy-free electricity generation as soon as possible.
  • Encouraging and facilitating Power Purchase Agreements.
  • Learning from the low cost finance model pioneered by the German government-owned bank KfW.
  • Introducing new policies and strengthening existing ones for home energy efficiency.
  • Setting out a clear, long-term timetable for the UK’s energy policy to reignite confidence and investment in the industry.

You think you are travelling in a certain direction having spent years laying down the ground work in the industry and then overnight these rails are ripped up. Time to take stock.

Ashden Award Winner

The UK policy landscape

The UK faces significant challenges in making the transition to sustainable energy and tackling fuel poverty. Our own national targets and our EU commitments require us to generate 15% of our energy – electricity, transport and heat - from renewables by 2020. In order to meet these targets and contribute towards the COP21 aim of limiting long-term global warming to 1.5°C, over the coming decades we need to focus on moving to renewable electricity generation and heating as well as transitioning to electric vehicles.

In 2014, 7% of the UK’s total energy consumption came from renewable sources, showing the scale of the task we have to complete in the next five years. Whilst we have made steady progress in renewable electricity generation (19% of demand in 2014), the slow progress across heat and transport energy demand is concerning.

The previous ten years had seen a raft of forward-thinking policies put in place to ensure the UK met its obligations. These included the Green Investment Bank, Zero Carbon Homes initiatives, and incentives to encourage people to switch to electric cars. Such support meant that the renewable energy sector saw £29.8 billion investment for 2010-20131 and produced excellent results in take up both in solar and community energy groups and strong support for tidal power.

Since May 2015 however, numerous announcements have come from ministers at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which significantly change the energy policy landscape. Some announcements, such as the phasing out of unabated coal, are welcome, but the move towards new gas and nuclear power plants – at the seeming expense of renewable technology support – is alarming.

These changes have often been announced without prior consultation and have come into effect after short or non-existent notice periods. It is especially concerning that renewable energy targets will now be harder to meet2. See table overleaf for an overview of the changes that are impacting the pioneering work of Ashden Award winners.

Ashden Award winners’ response to policy changes

Harnessing the expertise of Ashden Award winners – past and present – we sought to gauge the views of experts in the sector on the effects the policy changes listed above will have on their work.

We sent an online survey to 40 UK businesses and social enterprises, with 43% completing in-depth responses and conducted five follow-up telephone interviews.

These 17 organisations represent a mix of Ashden winners, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large corporations; social enterprises and not-for-profit groups; schools and public sector organisations.

Our alumni represent a broad spectrum of different organisations working on sustainable energy, from the smallest grassroots start-ups looking to scale up, to multi-million pound businesses, all working to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.

(Table coming soon...)

These organisations know the industry better than anyone; with a combined experience of over 720 years, they work across electricity and heat generation, energy efficiency retrofits, behaviour change, facilitating financial models, travel, building management and design, and have seen the sector landscape change over time.

The 17 respondents have a combined workforce of over 4,000 people and annual turnover of £78.9 million. The survey questions aimed to assess the effects policy change has had on various aspects of their work, including projected investment and sales, effects on staffing and future business plans.

The respondents are overwhelmingly worried by both the pace of change and the radical shift in direction in energy policy. In some cases this, together with the lack of advance warning, has created a great deal of uncertainty among investors which has had a negative impact on the sector overall.

There are concerns about the rhetoric of government ministers and the seeming lack of focus on reducing our carbon emissions in order to combat climate change.

The changes and uncertainty since May 2015 have led to a number of organisations reassessing their business plans and preparing for loss of growth and loss of investment in the year ahead

The months since the General Election in May 2015 have seen a dissonance between rhetoric and action in UK energy policy. Internationally, the Prime Minister made a well-received speech in Paris calling for investor stability and the international community to commit to limiting global warming to 1.5°C, five year reviews and to raising $100 billion per year in climate finance by 202013. Yet the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change made a speech in November that aimed to ‘reset’ the UK’s energy policy to control costs for bill payers at the expense of support for renewable energies.

This ‘reset’ has seen Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) research funding cut, Feed in Tariff subsidies reduced by 64% for household-scale solar, support for onshore wind scrapped, the Zero Carbon Homes and Buildings targets abolished, and community projects losing investment support.

Meanwhile, ministers across government have publicly put their support behind new nuclear and gas power stations as good value for money14 and secure supplies of energy. Offshore wind suppliers have been offered support if they can ensure competitive rates but the onshore wind industry is being dismantled.

Ashden Award winners have expressed their concerns not only about the abrupt policy changes but gaps left in policies for some technologies. Cutting solar subsidies, whilst encouraging the ‘dash for gas’ and extensive new nuclear projects, leaves the renewable industry unclear on the way forward. These changes, and the rhetoric that accompanies them, have led to a great deal of alarm within the sector, which is having a negative effect on the finances and growth of various sustainable energy organisations.

Although the end of the RO for onshore wind was planned, the early closure was a surprise and unwelcome shock as industry was working towards a smooth transition to CfDs. Now, with uncertainty surrounding the next round of CfDs, we face increased investor uncertainty, higher cost of debt, and uncertain project returns.

Ashden Award Winner

Investor and customer uncertainty and loss

The word ‘uncertainty’ was repeatedly used by Ashden Award winners in terms of financing projects. The policy changes over the past six months have affected confidence in the sector and survey respondents stated that investments and sales have fallen off over the period. Almost 60% said that the policy changes will affect their sales and customer retention.

This change [removal of preaccreditation for small-scale renewables] calls into question the viability of a number of projects. It creates a huge amount of uncertainty regarding project incomes, which affects investor certainty thereby increasing the cost of project finance.

Ashden Award winning business

The responses from our alumni echo the wider dialogue within the clean energy sector. The UK has been condemned by various members of the international community including the UN’s chief environment scientist Prof Jacquie McGlade15, former US Vice President Al Gore16, and domestic critics including Lord Greg Barker17. The policy changes have seen the UK drop to 11th place from 8th in Ernst & Young’s Renewable energy country attractiveness index18 and the Energy and Climate Change Committee is launching an inquiry into whether increased uncertainty around energy policy is undermining investor confidence.

The combination of these factors has affected investor confidence in parts of the renewable energy sector, with Ashden alumni questioning the viability of forthcoming projects. The loss of investment or customers leads to substantial loss in income and the inability to plan clearly going forward.

Over 50% of respondents reported a present loss or possible loss of business owing to the government’s current policy changes. This covered all areas of the sector, from home energy installations to new community and NGO projects and sustainable building initiatives. Affected organisations include those working with small community energy proposals, and larger manufacturing companies as well as schools that need to cancel intended installations.

Growth uncertainty

Almost 60% of respondents believed that the policy changes will have a negative effect on their business development. Varying degrees of impact were mentioned, from having to cancel projects – particularly in community energy – to scaling back plans, to loss of opportunity for growth and the resulting impact that this brings. One community organisation, OVESCO, predicts that they have lost £120,000 worth of rooftop solar business already whilst they predict a 75% drop in future solar farm business which will result in the loss of £15 million in investment.

They stated: “That could cost OVESCO £150K a year and make the difference of being a parttime company and a company with several employees!” Another company believes the lack of subsidy going forward severely jeopardises future development plans; they will need to reduce expenditure in electricity generation by “circa £700k immediately”.

Job uncertainty and job loss

Nearly 50% of respondents stated that the policy changes could have an effect on staffing in terms of redundancies. The government’s impact report, produced alongside the Feed in Tariff (FiT) consultation response, indicates that up to 18,700 jobs (58%of total) could be lost in the solar industry and up to 300 jobs (17% of total) in the wind industry nationwide due to the FiT cuts. Beyond loss of jobs, respondents were concerned by how the changes will inhibit their growth as employers. The cuts they are being forced to consider will mean they will not be able to create the jobs they were forecasting. This obviously has a wider effect in their community, with loss of local income.

We have one part-time employee at OVESCO. We had hoped to have at least three full-time employees if all our projects went ahead including the solar farms. We have already cut down from three days a week paid work to two days and will have to review this in the New Year.

OVESCO

Respondents also referred to their worries about ‘brain drain’ with experienced staff leaving the sector or the country as work becomes more uncertain.

This leads to concerns about the ability of the sector to respond to investment opportunities later as a skilled workforce depletes.

[On the effects of proposed FiT cuts] For customers and communities: lost income. For suppliers and staff there is a very serious risk of job losses. These are skilled, green sector jobs in rural areas with very little prospect of finding replacement employment at a suitable level.

TGV Hydro

Case study in uncertainty

After almost four months of waiting for the results of the FiT consultation, the proposed cuts will be going ahead in February 2016; some technologies are to have their rates cut less severely than initially proposed, whilst others will have them cut more severely than anticipated.

Regardless, it will reduce the number of viable projects, some of which may have been in the planning stages for years, especially for small-scale hydro – “farm and communityscale schemes that might have worked at [a return of] 10.7p [per kWh] will be abandoned at 8.5p [per kWh]” TGV Hydro. As a business developing micro-hydro projects, TGV Hydro is keenly aware that the lower the tariff, the smaller the income each project receives and the longer the return on the investment.

One area of FiT policy that has caused great anxiety has been the removal and then reintroduction of pre-accreditation. As recently announced, pre-accreditation will be reintroduced from 8th February 2016, although the pre-registration scheme for community and school projects <50kW will not be given a tariff guarantee currently. Schools will be hit hardest by this announcement as most projects are <50kW due to space constraints.

This is still being investigated with a decision to be made in early 2016 – further uncertainty for a sector desperately in need of clarity.

The wider effects of policy change

The policy changes not only affect growth and jobs but have a wider effect on the communities in which renewable organisations operate. Support mechanisms including FiT payments and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax relief on community projects have had a marked impact on schools, community groups, local authority initiatives and social enterprises. It is also important to note the effect that the recent changes have in our schools,

For young people there is worry and concern that despite overwhelming evidence our leaders miss the point and fail to take meaningful steps to protect future generations in favour of short term political goals. For us, our future is in the hands of people who do not seem to understand that the talk about climate change is not about them, but us.

Ringmer Community College.

The cuts to the FiT generation rates and the short-lived removal of pre-accreditation and preregistration for projects were both cited by 77% of respondents as currently having or expected to have a negative effect on their work and 35% of respondents highlighted the negative impact of the removal of the EIS tax relief for community energy groups. These responses from across our winners show just how difficult it is to adjust to the changes; confidence in the future is low. This is having a particularly detrimental effect upon community schemes, which take a long time to develop because of the time spent engaging multiple stakeholders and listening to local residents.

The money and time lost by groups that have long been working towards sustainable energy projects, navigating the many regulatory hurdles, is substantial. It varies greatly, depending upon technology, scale and location, but from the experience of TGV Hydro, it can run in to tens of thousands of pounds in public money spent to gain the correct permits and permissions and hundreds of hours of volunteer time.

To alter policy at such short notice prevents many of these projects from continuing, and as much as £127 million worth of installations may now be scrapped19. The waste caused by this poor governance continues to mount.

Volunteer hours

Collectively, the respondents alone rely on over 30,00020 volunteer hours each year to plan and execute new and existing projects. The current volatile policy environment has led to thousands of these hours having been for nothing as many projects could not meet the EIS and pre-registration cut-off dates and so will be scrapped. From the responses we received, it was highlighted again and again how the changes were preventing projects from going ahead – the wasted time and investment is significant.

Supply chain

Over 50% of respondents stated that the policy changes have had consequences for their supply chains. Organisations have seen partners go out of business, shed staff, and move abroad. All of this affects not only the business of Ashden Award winners, but leads to a loss of wider community benefits including income to local economies.

Reduced installer companies available for use - older established companies predict closing in 2015 - increased unemployment levels.

Ashden Award winning charity

Fuel poverty

Considering the levels of fuel poverty in the UK (2.35 million households in England alone in 201321), grassroots schemes can be one of the best ways to identify and help those struggling to heat their homes within communities.

Many diverse schemes exist up and down the country to help alleviate fuel poverty, from the ECO scheme to the Islington Council SHINE project22. However, with other sources of finance disappearing, these projects are unlikely to continue to the same level and standard that they had been.

The ECO scheme now aims to improve only 200,000 homes each year until the end of the current government; when compared to the 2.35 million households in England in fuel poverty, the scale of ambition seems insufficient. Similarly, the loss of FiT payments from solar will make it harder for social landlords to fund installations on their housing. Their tenants, often low-income, will struggle to then take part in solar schemes and lose the benefits they generate.

An important advantage of community energy schemes is the community benefit funds from the FiT income received for producing renewable electricity. This is used to pay a return to investors but the amount is normally capped, allowing surplus funds to be channelled to a community fund.

The purpose of these funds will vary between groups but often look at energy efficiency measures to help those in the community who are fuel poor.

Potentially each 5MW solar farm has the ability to provide £1-4 million over its life time for a community benefit fund. That would have helped the fuel poor with energy efficiency measures, reduce CO2 emissions and supported local employment. If we assume OVESCO cannot develop 20MW and only 5MW goes ahead, that means a loss of £3-£12 million for community benefit funds in our region.

OVESCO

FiT payments should not be viewed in terms of incentivising renewable electricity deployment alone; this ignores the greater benefits and cost effectiveness of the policy.

Community energy benefits

The last six months of policy change may very well have cut short the development of this nascent sector before it has the chance to reach its true potential, despite the government confirming support for it just months ago. The benefits of community energy are many and varied: increased generation of renewable electricity, uptake of efficiency retrofits measures, community cohesion and reduced energy bills among others, but the government’s past progress to promote community energy is unravelling.

This short-sighted cut has effectively ended the programme of installations on council homes. Tenants however will still see their bills rise (albeit more slowly now) to pay FITs for other generators without having a chance to benefit. Once again, this is a poorly thought through and unfair tax on lower income groups.

Ashden Award winning local authority

Community energy should be seen as an essential element of the UK’s energy strategy, but all of the current changes make it more difficult for the sector to grow. Our winners were hopeful for a concession or perhaps a community FiT (which has not happened) and the uncertainty has massively harmed the sector, discouraging many from starting new projects or continuing with current ones.

The decision over the FiT should give some clarity to community schemes for the next four years and will allow them to reassess their pipeline of projects – many will be unviable due to the severity of the cuts – but the introduction of quarterly caps and additional contingent degression of the FiTs means that there is a strong possibility of further cuts to the tariffs.

Projects which will provide a wide range of benefits to the community, but maybe marginal from an economic perspective will not go ahead. This is very detrimental for future varied energy mix and understanding of energy use for the public.

Ashden Award winning charity

UK’s ability to reach its 2020 targets?

The European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive23 requires the EU to supply at least 20% of its total energy usage from renewable sources by the year 2020, with each state given an individual target. The UK must reach 15% of energy consumption with renewable sources and the government has set the following sub-targets:

• 30% of electricity demand
• 12% of heat demand
• 10% of transport demand

These sub-targets are set internally and are not binding – any combination can be used to meet the overall 15% of energy usage. In 2014, the UK met:

• 19% of electricity demand
• 5% of heat demand
• 4% of transport demand

This accounts to 7% of total energy demand from renewables24. The progress from 2013 was good for electricity (now at 23.5% of demand in Q3 2015), but poor for transport and heat (only a 0.7% increase). Without new policies, it is hard to see how we will meet the targets at the current rate, as acknowledged by the recently leaked letter from DECC25.

The Green Deal was not a perfect mechanism, but it was highly innovative and rarely do things that are new not need refinement once launched. Having invested so much in launching the scheme it seems highly inefficient not to invest time in refining and improving the model.

Ashden Award winning business

The mix used to meet our overall 15% target is up to us and electricity looks like it will hit its 30% sub-target, however the energy demand for heat (non-electrical sources) in the UK amounted to 41% of total energy consumption in 2013 and transport amounted to 39%26.

Proportionally we would need to increase our renewable electricity share massively compared to heat and transport to hit our energy target, something that looks even less likely with the cuts to FiTs and removal of incentives for onshore wind.

Heat

Many of our winners work not only in generating energy, but in saving it and these policy U-turns “reduce [the] offers available in our area for clients needing insulation and/or new heating, particularly those vulnerable to risks of living in a cold home” Ashden Award Winner.

Cutting demand sufficiently looks unlikely, with 65% of respondents citing reduced spend through the Energy Company Obligation as a worry in the coming years and 53% expressing concern at the abandonment of the Zero Carbon homes and buildings regulations – these policies would go some way to cutting demand from heat, but – as one Ashden Award winner put it – with “fewer options for funding retrofit market development (not that existing ones were any good!)”, this looks increasingly out of reach.

These changes are having a “major impact on future carbon emissions, [which are] locked in for 50+ years by building sub-standard housing.”

Time is therefore of the essence and uncertainty in the sector will cause a knock-on effect in the coming years.

Energy policy is in disarray with a huge gap between government rhetoric and delivery.

Ashden Award winning local authority

Transport

Working to cut energy demand for transport in the UK is going to be key in meeting our 2020 targets, but the progress thus far seems limited. There has been some with rail projects such as the HS2 line and the electrification of lines in the North, but Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) has been reformed so that vehicles with lower CO2 emissions will no longer cost less to tax each year, after a first year charge based upon emissions and a flat rate for all vehicles for subsequent years is introduced in April 2017.

The number of electric cars is certainly on the rise, but the scale is nowhere near what we need to match our targets.

From a generation perspective, we will no longer be investing in large-scale onshore wind within England as it is no longer financially viable.

Ashden Award Winner

Recommendations:

Looking forward

Even though the pace and unexpectedness of the recent policy changes have been unwelcome, few survey respondents are unwilling to adapt to the new landscape. 52% of respondents discussed needing to scale back operations and 47% said that they will be reviewing their business model and viability in order to cope in the new environment.

Whilst accepting the changes, Ashden alumni are still concerned about the deep levels of uncertainty within the sector.

Some policy changes are still to be announced and there seems to be little forewarning on some of the changes such as VAT on solar projects, cancelling pre-accreditation and pre-registration for the Feed-in Tariff (and the subsequent partial reinstatement).

Although some areas haven’t yet settled down, the organisations surveyed have made various recommendations which follow.

We will be looking to develop business outside of energy generation.

Ashden Award Winner

Contract for Difference

It has been suggested that, rather than closing the Contract for Difference (CfD) to some technologies, as suggested with regards to onshore wind, the policy is kept for all technologies. As stated by the previous government, CfD provides “clear, stable and predictable revenue streams for investors in low-carbon electricity generation.” Survey respondents applaud the policy for being a ‘low cost subsidy mechanism that helps drive technology costs down’.

Tapering of FiTs

It is understood by our alumni that the FiTs needed to be reduced over the next few years to keep the spending under the Levy Control Framework (LCF) within budget, but the speed and level of reduction is extreme. (The LCF caps the cost of the 3 energy company levy-funded schemes currently underway in the UK: the Renewables Obligation, the Feed-in-tariffs and the Warm Home Discount. The energy companies recover the costs of these schemes through consumer bills.)

This is brutal and unjustified when a more gradual phased reduction would have helped the industry to stay alive.

Okehampton College

Whilst it is essential to protect consumers from increasing energy bills, a gentler tapering of the tariffs would have given the industry the confidence and time required to go subsidy-free as early as 202027, without a large increase in bills. The Solar Trade Association’s £1 Plan28 was produced in response to the proposed cuts and, if implemented, would have seen an additional 2,176 MW solar deployment for 2016-2019, only adding an additional £1.09 to consumer bills by 2019.

[The] Government is supposed to be focusing on cost-effective carbon and energy reduction yet has effectively abandoned the fifth fuel, energy efficiency.

Ashden Award winning local authority

Their plan would see solar FiT tariffs falling by between 32% and 51%, rather than the cuts of between 58% and 85% that start in January 2019.

Power Purchase Agreement

With subsidies to onshore wind being dramatically cut, Ashden Award winners suggested that the only way forward for this technology will be Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) for major consumers of electricity. This would give the wind-farm operator a steady source of income on which to base a business case for project finance through a fixed price for the electricity for a set number of years. There were concerns around planning permission for new onshore wind however, given Government ‘ill feeling’ towards the technology.

PPA is considered promising for big consumers using solar PV, and alumni would like to see this scheme supported.

Low cost finance

With financial support for renewable technologies being reassessed for value for money, the sustainable energy organisations we surveyed would like to see security going forward with access to low cost finance options.

Citing the German model – not only stable Feed in Tariff policies but also access to low interest finance through the government-owned development bank KfW – alumni see this as a possible way forward for the sector.

Having committed €47.6 billion in 2014 to housing and environmental protection, KfW provides a benchmark to which the Green Investment Bank could aim.

Focus on efficiency

Missing from much of the recent dialogue around the energy ‘reset’ has been a commitment to improving our housing stock. In 2013, energy used in homes accounted for more than one quarter of energy use and carbon dioxide emissions in the UK . Ashden alumni are concerned that the loss of focus on our housing stock will make it difficult to meet our target of reducing UK carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

A housing provider stated that the changes to brownfield planning and loss of zero carbon homes has a "major impact on future carbon emissions, locked in for 50+ years by building sub-standard housing."

For reasons ranging from alleviating fuel poverty to meeting our carbon targets, six Ashden Award winners cited the need to have clear, funded policies on energy efficiency.

Clear, long term policy

As stated throughout this report, the lack of certainty within the sustainable energy sector is causing great difficulties for organisations, leaving them unable to strategise for the future without clear plans from the government.

This uncertainty is severely damaging the sector and making it difficult to find both investors and customers.

Whilst the Ashden alumni accept the scaling back of subsidies – though most disagree with the pace and severity – they repeatedly state the need for a clear, long term policy plan that would allow them to reassess their position and work within business models that allow them to succeed.

What we need are more ambitious schemes to help proven technologies and business models scale up. Our winners represent such technologies and models, and they have told us how damaging and negative the past six months have been – it is essential that the next six months show support for the sector if the UK is to hit its 2020 targets.

References

Appendix 1: Survey Respondents

Abundance
Bioregional
Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)
Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE)
Ecotricity
The Energy Agency (South West Scotland)
Global Action Plan (GAP) UK
Leeds City Council
Max Fordham
National Energy Action (NEA)
The National Trust
Okehampton College
Ouse Valley Energy Services Company (OVESCO) Limited and IPS
Ringmer Community College
TGV Hydro Limited
Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN)
Woodheys Primary School

Appendix 2: Survey Questions (first sent 20th October 2015)

Name

Organisation

Email Address

How can we use your responses?

• In public, anonymously
• In public, using your name
• Within Ashden only
• Other

Q1. What policies are affecting or may affect your work?

“Already affecting our work”, “Expected to affect our work in the next year” or “Has the potential to
affect our work”

1. Support for onshore wind under the renewables obligation (RO) will end.
2. Ending the “grandfathering” of RO subsidy for solar projects less than 5MW.
3. The removal of pre-accreditation for small-scale renewables projects.
4. Dramatically reducing FIT levels, using quarterly degression and imposing an annual spending cap on FITs.
5. Energy supplied under renewable source contracts is no longer exempt from the climate change levy.
6. Ending the Green Deal and the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.
7. Reduced spend through ECO (from 1 April 2015).
8. Abandonment of Zero Carbon Homes.
9. Abandonment of Zero Carbon Buildings.
10. Privatisation of the Green Investment Bank.

Please list any other policy changes that are or may impact your organisation, but are not listed above.

Q2. What effect are the policy changes having on your business/programme?

The policies below are those you indicated are or may affect your work. Please explain the nature and severity of the effect, for example staffing, finance, business plans etc. Make clear if this is already being felt or if it is in the future (and if so, how far in the future).

1. Support for onshore wind under the renewables obligation (RO) will end.
2. Ending the “grandfathering” of RO subsidy for solar projects less than 5MW.
3. The removal of pre-accreditation for small-scale renewables projects.
4. Dramatically reducing FIT levels, using quarterly degression and imposing an annual spending cap on FITs.
5. Energy supplied under renewable source contracts is no longer exempt from the climate change levy.
6. Ending the Green Deal and the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.
7. Reduced spend through ECO (from 1 April 2015).
8. Abandonment of Zero Carbon Homes.
9. Abandonment of Zero Carbon Buildings.
10. Privatisation of the Green Investment Bank.

Q3. Will the policy changes have an effect upon the following?

“Yes”, “No”, “Possibly” or “Not applicable”

• New customer acquisition and customer retention
• HR/management of people
• Product/market development
• Sales
• Supply chain
• Marketing/advertising efforts

Q4. What do you predict will be the financial consequences of the changes to your business/programme?

Q5. What do you predict could be the wider social and financial consequences of the changes to your employees, customers and partners?

Q6. What are the personal consequences for you, your employees, your customers and your partners?

Q7. What are the long-term consequences for your business/programme?

In particular, have any of your future plans had to be scaled back or cancelled because of the policy changes?

Q8. What are you planning to do to respond to the policy changes?

For example, changes to your business model, new campaigns, briefing journalists, writing to your local MP etc.

Q9. What could Ashden do to support you in coping with these policy changes?

• Media training for releasing statements
• Help contacting your local MP
• Roundtable discussions
• Introductions to our partners
• Introductions to current campaigns
• Business advice for dealing with policy changes
• Coordinate joint communications to ministers and policy makers
• Other, please specify...

Q10. Is fracking or new nuclear being considered in the geographical area where your business/programme is carried out?

“Yes” or “No”

Any other comments?

Would you be happy for us to follow up this survey with a phone call?

“Yes” or “No”

Thank you; we appreciate you taking the time to complete this survey.

Would you like to receive our resulting analysis?

“Yes” or “No”