This will piss off several noisy groups in no uncertain terms:
- greens, obviously
- developers who pretend to be hippies but are as uninterested in the environment as the average coal producer, and considerably more hypocritical
- landowners hoping to join the great game
- the SNP, as their entire energy policy is predicated on a very significant increase in Scottish onshore wind capacity, haha.
The UK is more or less on course to hit its 2020 renewables targets. (I put aside the issue of whether 'achieving the target' is anything more than an arbitrary feat of civil engineering.) So beyond that, where does the government imagine it is headed with the 'green crap'? A cynic would say: no politician looks beyond the next election and - given the lead-time of big new developments - the die is already cast for 2020: in which case, the next 5 years is all about (a) keeping the lights on and (b) spin.
But I suspect there is a bit of a longer-term plan there somewhere. The Paris jamboree looms large and at least something will emerge from that with implications for the next while. If forced to guess where the government is going (which has nothing whatsoever to do with where it ought to be going), I reckon:
- momentum / pride will lead them to continue trying, for a while, to get the EDF nuke deal away without conceding anything extra, on the grounds that (as far as we know) there isn't much to pay until the damn things actually start generating - which won't be in Cameron's political lifetime, to put it mildly
- ... but if EDF plays its usual trick of saying, zut alors, the cost has gone up by another EUR 2 billion, we need some more £££ - then the whole thing will be allowed to fold
- Osborne intends to fend off any actually difficult targets for the 2020-2050 period: even though Paris will be an insufferable piety-fest, Merkel has shown how the can may be booted clear over the horizon
- they think offshore wind + biomass is, in practical terms, enough to meet whatever will end up being the 2030 targets - and quite a good job-creation scheme for British industry
- they will attempt to ensure the UK is there or thereabouts in any nascent CCS industry that might one day come into being (don't hold your breath)
- they will manipulate the new Capacity Market to ensure new gas-fired plants get built.