Subsidies from the taxpayer to fund wind power are necessary to get renewable technologies going, Nick Clegg said today, in the latest Lib Dem clash with the Tories.
The Deputy Prime Minister, who is leading the UK delegation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio+20 Earth Summit, said it was preferable for renewable energy not to rely on subsidies but said initial investment could go a long way.
His comments came after it emerged George Osborne wants to cut subsidies for wind energy in a move which could halt the expansion of the turbines throughout Britain.
Ministers are expecting a reduction of up to a quarter in the value of Renewable Obligation Certificates — or “Rocs” — when the Energy Bill is published in a few weeks’ time.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Mr Clegg said: “I don’t think anyone should be fetishistic about subsidies. They’re not set in stone. If you can support onshore, offshire wind without any set-up subsidies, all the better.”
But he added: “In the early stages of these technologies, a bit of support from the taxpayer goes a long way. If you want to get those new renewable technologies going, you need a bit of support in those early years.”
He said it was a “real opportunity as we rebalance the economy away from the unsustainable mistakes of the past.”