Wind turbines and solar panels into nuclear weapons: the UK’s new industrial strategy? via Ecologist

The UK government is punishing renewable energy for its success in generating 25% of the country’s electricity, writes Stuart Parkinson. But there’s no austerity when it comes to the bloated military-nuclear industrial sector, no matter how egregious its failures or extreme its cost overruns. Our future prosperity is being sacrificed – and its costing taxpayers billions.

The government has spent the summer announcing cuts to financial support for solar panels, wind turbines and other green energy technologies, while at the same time pledging new funding for military industrial programmes, especially those for nuclear weapons.

Is this a sign that the government’s current industrial policies represent a slide back towards a Cold War-style ‘military-industrial complex’ and away from the growth of the green economy?

The largest green industrial sector that the government has been cutting is renewable energy. The Conservatives have long had a particular dislike for onshore wind farms, but now they have broadened their attack to include other renewable energy technologies.


The justification given for making these changes is to prevent an overspend in the government’s budget allocations for renewable energy projects. This overspend has been projected to reach £1.5bn by 2021.


Bolstering nuclear weapons and the arms industry

There is an ongoing debate about whether shortfalls in the funding of renewables and energy efficiency programmes should instead come from redirecting some of the large subsidies received by the fossil fuels or nuclear power sectors – which have been estimated to be several billion a year.

However, in this article, I want to contrast the treatment of the green industrial sector in the UK with that of the military industrial sector. Why? One crucial reason is that they employ similar numbers of engineers and scientists, many with similar skill sets – as recent analysis points out.


Punishing success and rewarding failure

So let’s summarise some key points. The government is cutting financial support worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the renewable energy industry – a sector that has been generating much more electricity than predicted, saving huge amounts of carbon emissions and other forms of pollution, providing increased energy security, and creating numerous high skilled jobs. Such cuts will badly damage the sector.

At the same time, the government is refusing to cut funding for the military industrial sector – despite major projects going billions of pounds over budget, repeated failures to deliver equipment with the adequate capabilities, and serious questions over the defensive value of key programmes.

The government is demonstrating dangerous levels of bias. By punishing success in the green industrial sector and rewarding failure in the military industrial sector, it is risking our environment, our economy and our security. It’s time that was changed.

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