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How Brexit Will Impact Renewable Energy Businesses

Posted: 09/02/2019

How and if Brexit goes ahead next month will have a huge impact on everyone in the country, affecting everything from trade to medical supplies. One area it could also have a significant influence on is the renewables energy sector, whether the government manages to secure a deal with the European Union (EU) or not.

According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), leaving the EU on March 29th will affect large industrial facilities, those working in the civil nuclear sector; UK installation operators; UK aircraft operators participating in the EU Emissions Trading System; those engaged in any energy industry; researchers of nuclear fission; and suppliers, installers or generators of electricity, renewal energy or micro-generation technologies.

What Is The Status Quo?

At the moment, Prime Minister Theresa May has not been able to gain support for her deal from parliament, let alone the EU. Therefore, she has just a few weeks left to endear politicians – and the rest of the country – to her strategy on how to break up the relationship as smoothly as possible.

If she fails to get people to agree on a plan, there is a distinct possibility that Britain may leave the EU without a deal in place. This would leave many sectors and individuals confused about their position and their trading relationships with businesses, banks and routes on the continent.

How A No-Deal Brexit Would Affect Renewables

Those working in the green energy industry, like many other people in the country, might be concerned about the future of their sector – particularly, if no deal is secured.

However, according to the government, in this situation, many of the schemes will simply stay the same. This is at least until some formal arrangement has been made.

The Climate Change Act will still apply within Britain, as well as the UK’s Industrial Strategy. Cross-border trade agreements for gas, as well as civil nuclear trade co-operation with the EU, will continue, BEIS has confirmed.

One of the concerns about leaving the EU is losing its many standards, but trading practices on eco-design and energy labelling should remain the same in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The same can be said for domestic research and international partnerships, even if they are from within the EU, as well as the laws regarding hydrocarbon licensing and environmental protection.

Britain will continue to recognise electricity supplier Guarantees of Origin, despite not being within the EU anymore. In addition to this, micro-generation technology installer certificates that are issued by European Economic Area (EEA) states will also be recognised in the UK.

Finally, regulations for the monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gases will remain the same, ensuring Britain continues to support the renewable energy industry and promote environmentally friendly practices.

With regards to renewable energy imports into the UK, Britain would still recognise these if there is no deal, global quality assurance and risk management company DNV GL was reported by Green Tech Media as saying. 

However, the firm’s market area manager for the UK and Ireland Michael Dodd noted, the EU might not reciprocate this.

“It’s positive that the UK will recognise European certificates. The one-sided nature of the arrangement, however, is a concern for UK-based generation and UK-based developers,” Mr Dodd stated.

He went on to tell the news provider that not recognising British certificates could affect trade deals with European countries, saying, “that’s naturally going to reduce the opportunities to sell and market the power that both existing and prospective generation will generate”.

What Should A Brexit Deal Include?

If a deal is struck that the government, public and EU can agree on, then there could still be a big impact on the green energy sector, depending on what agreements have been confirmed.

- Safety Legislation

One of the main worries for energy providers is what will happen to the health and safety of their employees when Britain leaves the EU. Most health and safety legislation originates from the EU, as part of the Health and Safety Framework Directive, which helps to reduce workplace risk across all industries for member states.

When Brexit was announced, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) warned that leaving the EU could affect workplace safety for British workers, with a report stating: “The overall contribution of EU regulations on health and safety to the UK workforce is substantial”.

While the government insists health and safety will be upheld when Britain becomes independent from the EU, without a deal in place, there is no certainty of this. Indeed, TUC reported how some Brexiteers are calling for removal of ‘EU red tape’, which includes the Working Time Directive, providing protection for employees.

Despite this, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has committed itself to maintaining conditions, whether a deal is struck with the EU or not. A reassuring message on its website reads: “HSE’s approach to regulation is to preserve the UK’s high standards in health and safety and to continue to protect people and the environment.”

It has removed EU references in its regulations so far, and will have to amend them again once Britain is no longer legally bound by EU law. However, it continues to drive the message to employers that they should “manage your business and employees in a proportionate way to reduce risk and to protect people and the environment”.

Renewable energy companies, such as wind farms, therefore, should continue to maintain their own high standards of health and safety and ensure employees undertake and refresh their GWO working at heights courses. This will provide greater reassurance of their competencies to work at an offshore location, regardless of, how and when the UK leaves the security net of the EU.