Changing the mood music


June 13, 2013

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Despite all the talk, at some 213 pages long, I’d be interested to know just how many people have actually had the time to read the much-anticipated UK Energy Bill.

Over and above those operating in an advisory capacity, of course, and therefore working on (lucrative) billable time.

And perhaps more pertinently, I wonder just how many UK consumers, are even aware that the Bill’s already been debated and that it’s headed to the House of Lords?

Irrespective, like any national policy document it’s certainly no light prose.

And while there’s been a great deal of discussion surrounding what’s been left out – perhaps notably, the omission of a 2030 decarbonisation target – there’s no doubting just how far it’s already started to shift the current thinking and debate.

And it was viewed in this light that we kicked off Wednesday’s panel session at Offshore Wind 2013 that took place in Manchester, earlier this week.

In the early stages of the debate, there were those on the panel that were quick to share the view that many of the major pension funds and associated institutional investors have been watching the market from the sidelines.

With some even going as far to suggest that the recent attempts to adjust national solar incentives has had a negative impact on the appetite for offshore wind.

Time then, as one participant put it, to change the mood music. To tackle the challenge of negative market sentiment head on. And in doing so, to persuade and reassure those looking to engage of the clear opportunity to invest.

That in turn will require some difficult conversations. Since in the short to medium term construction, operation and maintenance costs will remain high and cabling breakages are unlikely to disappear over night.

However, the investment costs of today pale into insignificance when set against a longer-term pattern of rising energy costs in the future, argued one panellist. And this in turn is something that presents a compelling catalyst for change.

Plenty of positivity then? Despite the acknowledgement of an investment hiatus?

That was certainly a common consensus from the investors, manufacturers and developers on the panel, who recognised the need for visibility, clear targets and a steady, long-term market outlook.

However, for better or for worse, change takes place quicker than one thinks.

And given that the venue for this week’s gathering has itself made the transition from bustling train terminus, to car park, to conference centre in the space of a generation, let’s not forget about the true speed of market flexibility and innovation.

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