Energy industry sees positives in May’s Brexit comments

Britain’s energy industry found positive comments amid Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech outlining how the UK would leave the single market when it exits the European Union (EU).

Emma Pinchbeck, Executive Director of trade body RenewableUK, pointed to May’s clear support for clean energy in the speech.

Pinchbeck noted that the Prime Minister had hailed the UK as one of the best places in the world for science and innovation, with a proud history of leading on and supporting cutting edge technology – including clean energy.

“As the UK is the global leader in offshore wind as well as wave and tidal energy, we’re well placed to attract investment and to export renewable energy kit to every corner of the world,” Pinchbeck added.

Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of trade body Energy UK, said: “Brexit presents an opportunity for a bold and ambitious plan for energy with the UK showing global leadership in meeting climate change targets, with more jobs, investment and environmental benefits.”

‘Real opportunity’

Trevor Hutchings, Director of Advocacy at environmental charity WWF-UK, said: “Getting the best deal for the environment was not among the 12 key objectives for the negotiations set out by Theresa May but the Government has pledged to leave the UK environment in a better state than it found it.  

“So, from the air we breathe to the soil we use and the water we drink, renegotiating our relationship with the rest of the EU presents a real opportunity, only if the Government makes enhancing environmental protections at home and abroad a priority.”

Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive at the Renewable Energy Association, In the short to medium term, how we leave the EU is fundamental to this sector. If we do this badly we will see rising bills for consumers, a deserted industry and threat to keeping the lights on.

“Energy and the environment are two of the most complex and intertwined areas of UK and EU legislation. Every company in every sector wants a smooth, orderly and clear transition, yet the repercussions in this area are so wide ranging it has to be a top priority for the Prime Minister and her Government.”

Uncertainty

However, Tanuja Randery, UK and Ireland Zone President at French-owned company Schneider Electric, cautioned that the leave vote had created uncertainty around interconnectors and that it was essential energy remains high on the Brexit agenda as access to the single market is negotiated.

"The free-flow of energy across the EU offers the best possible chance of achieving our 2020 renewable energy targets, while ensuring security of supply for the consumer. With the news that the UK will exit the European Single Market, the government needs to make it clear how we will maintain some control over the rules that regulate our ability to freely compete.

"The UK has always been a leader in energy and climate change. But if we are to maintain this in the evolving energy market, we must consider the risks that Brexit poses. The vote to leave the EU has already created uncertainty around energy interconnectors, and the way we take advantage of these, both in terms of existing and planned projects.”

> Read RenewableUK's response