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Green Levies To Treble By 2020

March 30, 2015

By Paul Homewood




I missed this article from a couple of weeks ago in the Telegraph:


Green levies on energy bills will treble by 2020 because of renewable targets, official figures suggest.

The cost of environmental levies to support projects such as wind farms, solar panels and biomass plants will rise from £3.1billion last year to £9.4billion by the end of the decade, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Separate figures published last year show that the policies account for 5 per cent of energy bills at present – equivalent to £68 a year – to 15 per cent of an annual energy bill by 2020, equivalent to £226.

The rise is being driven by renewable energy targets, which require 30 per cent of Britain’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.

It comes despite growing concern among senior Conservatives that subsidies for renewable energy are pushing up people’s gas and electricity bills.

David Cameron has reportedly said that the government needs to get rid of "this green crap" amid concerns about renewable energy subsidies.

He vowed last year to "roll back" green taxes which add an average of £100 a year to average fuel bills.

In an appearance before MPs earlier this month he also said that people are "fed up" with onshore wind farms being built and that "enough is enough".

The approach reflects a significant shift in the Conservative’s approach to green subsidies.

In 2006, when David Cameron became the leader of the Conservatives, the party changed it’s logo to a doodle of a green tree and soon after adopted the mantra "vote blue, go green".

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, "environmental levies" will cost households £89 billion between 2013-14 and 2019-20.

The biggest element of them is the "renewables obligation", which subsidises green projects such as new wind farms. The subsidy means onshore wind farms receive £40 on top of the market price of power – giving a higher total income of about £85 to £90/MWh for 20 years.


According to the OBR, the obligation represented £2.5billion of the £3.1billion worth of environmental levies in 2013-14.

The environmental levies include green levies as well as the warm homes discount.

Dr John Constable, director of Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity which has campaigned against energy subsidies, said: “Treasury’s efforts to limit environmental costs, which are dominated by subsidies to renewable electricity, have so far failed to keep costs within safe limits.

"£9bn a year for decades is much too much, and will disenchant the public with current climate change mitigation policies.

"Many will say that if cutting emissions is this expensive it’s just not worth trying, and, quite frankly, they would be right. The resources could be better spent, on adaptation for example.”

It came as Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said in an interview with House magazine that he wants to see more onshore wind farms.

He said he was "on the side" of those who support onshore wind and accused his Conservative Coalition partners of "only listening to the loudest voices".

A report by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank earlier this week found that the true cost of wind farms and green projects is far higher than minister have admitted.

Scrapping the UK’s green energy targets in favour of gas-fired power plants would save consumers £214 a year by 2020, the report suggests – despite ministers’ insistence that the total impact of the policies will be only £141 per household by then.

Wind and solar farms rely on subsidies to be economically viable and the costs of the subsidies are charged to consumers through so-called ‘green levies’ on energy bills.

“The costs of intermittent renewables are massively understated,” the CPS argues, accusing ministers of an unstated policy objective to deliberately “hide the full cost and operational implications” of green power.


I can’t track down the actual report from the Office for Budget Responsibility, but the story is backed by a release from the energy company, SSE.

The Levy Control Framework, which sets annual limits on the overall costs of all DECC’s low carbon electricity levy-funded policies to control public expenditure paid for through consumer energy bills, has been set at £7.6 billion at 2012 prices.


The telegraph also quotes a cost of £89 billion between 2014 and 2020. It is hard to reconcile this with the annual costs given, but this figure was also quoted by Angela Knight, in her speech at Bristol University last week, which I reported on.

I have asked the OBR to clarify this, so watch this space.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    March 30, 2015 11:12 am

    Every voter should be made aware of the actual costs to them, of the policies instigated by Miliband, continued by Cameron + Clegg and enthusiastically endorsed by the Greens.

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    March 30, 2015 4:36 pm

    In the material looked at there always is the “for 20 years” statement. While this number may mean something to someone (the original receiver of the subsidy and price above market ?), it does not represent the time over which taxpayers will be dinged for these schemes.
    There are a couple of expressions that apply: “White Elephant” being one. We also use the expression “the gift that keeps on giving.” [A small issue grows and grows, never seems to end.]
    In our area there is a small Darrieus wind turbine. It was put up with subsidy about 30 years ago. If it ever produced any electrons there is no report thereof. The company that built the equipment became an historical footnote almost before the surrounding grass recovered. No one is responsible for it. It rusts in place, waiting for gravity and wind to convert it from a vertical to a horizontal wreck. In an area with desert-like precipitation there is no chance that this hulk will ever be hidden by vegetation.
    The bottom line is that the people that profit from these schemes will be long dead before others have paid the price.

    An unrelated example of this sort of thing, from Seattle:

  3. March 30, 2015 6:14 pm

    And people wonder how a certain owner of a company called Ecotricity has made himself a 100 times millionaire in just a few years…..a clue to who he is — he was in a much publicised case with his wife wanting some money after they were divorced some twenty odd years ago when they were both hippy travellers.

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