‘Brexit’ to affect wave & tidal sector

Brexit, which denominates British European Union (EU) exit referendum, could have a massive impact on the offshore renewables sector, according to Renewables Consulting Group (RCG).

Energy and environmental policies are unlikely to be a priority for the British public as the European Union exit referendum looms, the consultancy company said. With no precedent set for Member States to leave, failure to understand the implications of a Brexit on the offshore wind and wave and tidal industries could be a costly one, according to RCG’s report on the issues and implications of a Brexit.

Whilst estimates suggest UK level regulation is 2.5 times more cost effective than EU regulation, a Brexit scenario is expected to leave the UK with little influence over EU energy regulation but still be largely regulated by it. RCG’s research shows a Brexit is likely to put UK’s 2020 and 2030 renewables targets under threat, and with it further uncertainty on the future sustainability of the industry.

Although the full impact of a ‘Brexit’ is difficult to predict, it is well understood that energy and the environment are key pillars of EU legislation, and have, over time, intricately bolstered every facet of UK energy law and policy, according to RCG. If Britain exits, Government needs to maintain close cooperation and policy alignment with the EU to leverage its competitive edge and retain its current influence as a market leader in marine renewables, and energy policy innovator. The alternatives are exploitation of its new institutional freedom to reverse key energy and environmental laws and policies, which has far reaching implications to all actors in the renewables sector, the renewables consultancy company said.

“Eurosceptics argue that the EU sets overambitious environmental and climate targets with inflexible energy policies that burden UK industries. Yet, despite the rhetoric, the evidence to remain in the EU shows that energy policy, climate and environmental regulation remain fundamental drivers to future growth, and without them the renewables industry will continue to be at risk from regulatory divergence,” RCG said.

The seemingly simple decision to ‘leave’ or ‘stay’ is a complex one and finding its answers opaque. With time running out, the implications of a Brexit to the future of the offshore wind industry and marine renewables, and its supporting environmental legislation, hangs in the balance, the company concluded.

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