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Home >Blogs>Andy Pye >Green technology: what the Government giveth, so Brexit taketh away

Green technology: what the Government giveth, so Brexit taketh away

08 October 2018

Launched on the same day last month (12th September) were two industrial initiatives, the Green Task Force Alliance and the EURIS report on the effects of a no-deal Brexit.

Examples of strengths in the UK and favourites of include smart grids, energy storage, offshore wind, electric vehicles and solar PV, amongst others.

The Green Alliance Task Force focuses on how smart technologies might boost the resource efficiency of UK businesses. In recognition of the economic divide highlighted by the result of the Brexit referendum, it is also hoped to springboard the economic prospects of the traditional manufacturing regions.

Steve Brambley, chief executive of GAMBICA, the Trade Association for Instrumentation, Control, Automation and Laboratory Technology (Tech Task Force member), said: “Smart technology can be used to reduce energy consumption, eliminate waste and decrease carbon emissions. As well as being environmental imperatives, these are important goals for the UK’s long-term competitiveness.”

This new Tech Task Force is bringing together businesses committed to smart clean growth to work out where policy can accelerate the adoption of technologies that could help businesses across the UK grow their profits by reducing their environmental impact. 

The EURIS report

But the manufacture of low carbon energy products is also an area where post-Brexit trade barriers could slow down the UK’s ability to capitalise.

EURIS, an advisory body of 13 trade organisations representing industrial product suppliers covered by the Single Market, released the results of a survey conducted amongst its members by the UK Trade Policy Observatory of the University of Sussex. The vice-chair of EURIS is the aforementioned GAMBICA's Steve Brambley, while the Chair is Dr Howard Porter, CEO of BEAMA, which represents manufacturers of electrical infrastructure products and systems. EURIS collectively represents companies turning over £148 billion and employs 1.1 million people.

"Securing a competitive UK manufacturing industry post-Brexit" is a hard-hitting condemnation of the impact of a no-deal Brexit. Such an outcome, the report concludes, will cause severe damage to industry and must be avoided.

What has the EURIS report to say specifically on Low Carbon issues of the type being promoted by the Green Task Force Alliance?

Government support for renewables and cleantech has underpinned this growth by increasing deployment and allowing the establishment of cost-effective cross-border supply chains, whereby the UK imports components such as solar panels, wind turbines and energy storage systems. The EU accounts for around 64% of all low-carbon equipment imported by the UK. At the same time, the EU is also the UK’s primary market for low carbon equipment exports (55%), which includes growth industries like electric vehicles.

Export of electric vehicles

The EU currently accounts for a large proportion the UK’s export in electric and hybrid vehicles. It is currently unclear what tariffs the UK market may face on leaving the Customs Union, however, failure to secure a trade agreement could possibly see member states apply the Most Favoured Nation tariff of 10% on UK imports of electric and hybrid vehicles. This could cause car makers to shift their efforts to selling electric cars in other European countries, driven by EU member state commitments to stop the sale of new petrol or diesel cars within the next two decades.

Aside from trade concerns, the EURIS report adds, a failure to maintain energy system regulations, decarbonisation targets and environmental standards after Brexit will also impact the low carbon product manufacturing market. The UK has been an influential force in the design of the EU’s current energy policy, resulting in the development of a secure, and affordable low carbon energy system across Europe.