Despite their name and mission statement, the Renewable Energy Foundation have once again been active in attempting to discredit the wind energy sector. Their declaration that they promote “sustainable development for the benefit of the public by means of energy conservation and the use of renewable energy” has been called into question, with an Energy and Environmental Management article summarising that “the REF is a front for the interests of biofuels companies, energy-intensive industries and even oil and gas companies”.
In a story released last month, the REF together with Civitas claimed that 10,000 jobs would be lost in Britain as a direct result of the government’s green policies, with this expanding to 30,000 jobs if the government’s policies are accelerated. In fact 2010 figures from RenewablesUK show that there are currently 10,800 full time employees in the wind and marine sector alone and has more than doubled in the last three years.
The EAEM article highlights the rather un-green credentials of those running and supporting the REF. It details connections of key REF personnel with biofuel (in particular palm oil) industries, energy intensive industries such as nickel, plastics and aluminium processing and oil and gas industries. It’s hard to ignore the roll-call of anti-renewable, and more specifically anti-wind characters that chair and support the REF. A roll-call that includes the NIMBY celebrity – Noel Edmonds who was a part founder of the REF after learning of the threat of a wind farm near to his Devon home.
Similar concerns were raised by the Guardian in May of this year in their article “Will the real Renewable Energy Foundation please stand up”.
The REF’s campaigning didn’t escape the notice of the charity commission back in 2008, when they were advised to assess the appropriateness of their activities in relation to their stated objectives.
The EEAM piece concludes that “All of the [industry links] represent clear evidence that the Renewable Energy Foundation has an industrial agenda aimed at skewing government policy in favour of the industries for which it is a front.
Its pronouncements on renewable energy, jobs, and especially windpower, must therefore be taken with several pinches of salt.”