Renewable Energy Foundation


Renewable Energy Foundation

Background

The Renewable Energy Foundation is a UK charity that aims to “promote sustainable development for the benefit of the public by means of energy conservation and the use of renewable energy”, according to its website. It calls for a “structured energy policy that is both ecologically sensitive and practical”. [1]

The group regularly publishes data on renewable energy generation in the UK and its reports have been covered in national newspapers, including The Times and The Telegraph. [2] 

Although the REF claims not to be opposed to the development of wind energy, it has faced accusations of being an anti-wind campaign group by green energy companies. [3]

The charity was founded in 2004 to fight against what it described as the “grotesque political push” for wind energy in the UK, with TV presenter Noel Edmonds originally serving as its chairman. Edmonds said at the time that he joined the group because of the threat of wind farm developments near his home in Devon. [4]

In 2008, it was the subject of a complaint relating to its campaigning activities which led to a meeting with the Charity Commission to “discuss amending its objects to accurately reflect the charity's activities and purposes,” according to a Charity Commission spokesperson. [3]

The charity has close ties to the climate science denial campaign group the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Its chairman is Professor Michael Kelly, a GWPF trustee, while John Constable, an advisor to the Foundation and Energy Editor of its campaign arm, the Global Warming Policy Forum, has been quoted as a REF spokesperson and was previously its Director of Policy and Research. [2][3]

Renewable Energy Forum

REF also runs a consultancy called the Renewable Energy Forum that offers “bespoke data analysis” relating to the UK renewables sector. The company has previously produced research for the Japanese government's Research Institute for Technologies for the Earth (RITE) and is directed by John Constable, Colin Davie and Dr Lee Moroney. [1], [35], [36]

Stance on Climate Change

The REF's “About us” page on its website states: [5]

“We aim to raise public awareness of the issues and encourage informed debate regarding a structured energy policy that is both ecologically sensitive and practical. The issues of climate change and security of energy supply are complex and closely intertwined. REF contributes to the debate surrounding these issues by commissioning reports to provide an independent and authoritative source of information.”

Funding

A 2011 investigation by the Guardian revealed that the organisation had received funding from property developers including Cadogan and Rausing, as well as Barclays Capital, Calor Gas and the Golden Bottle Trust, a grant-making body supported by C. Hoare & Co, the UK's oldest privately owned bank. An REF spokeswoman also said there were “other energy sector companies” who had made donations. A report entitled “Energy Policy and Consumer Hardship” released the same year by the group was listed as being funded by ScottishPower Energy People Trust. [3][6]

A 2010 press release on the group's website mentions funding from Vincent Tchenguiz, a property tycoon and businessman. [7]

The group has also received funding from the anti-wind power Renewable Energy Foundation, set up by TV presenter Noel Edmonds. [40]

Annual reports

Key People

Michael Kelly serves as Chairman of the REF. Kelly is a retired Cambridge University engineering professor who is also a trustee of the UK's principal climate science denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). He has previously spoken of having a “principled climate science scepticism” and gave the charity's annual lecture in 2019. According to a press release about the event, Kelly argued the UK's recently adopted 2050 “net zero” emissions target was “beset by superficial thinking that ignores engineering reality” and would be “unachievable without major social disruption”. He has frequently cast doubt on the ability of renewables to meet future energy needs and has wrongly claimed that climate models have been “heating twice as fast as the data”. [8], [9], [10], [11]

John Constable was previously Director of Policy and Research at the REF and still acts as a spokesperson for the group, as well as being a director of the Renewable Energy Forum. In addition, Constable is the Energy Editor of the Global Warming Policy Forum, campaign arm of the GWPF. Constable was previously registered as a member of staff for a fellow GWPF advisor, Viscount Matt Ridley, from June 2017, giving him access to the House of Lords. Constable has been a vocal critic of government energy policy and has long opposed subsidies for renewable energy. He was chairman of a local anti-wind farm campaign group called NOWAP until it was dissolved in 2014.  [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17]

Carol Bell is a trustee of the REF and a board member of the government-backed Development Bank of Wales, as well as a Council Member of Cardiff University. She has spent much of her career working in the oil and gas sector and banking. She is currently Non-Executive Director of TransGlobe Energy, an oil company; Tharisa plc, a mining company; Bonheur ASA, a holdings company involved in renewables, oil and gas, and shipping; and the BlackRock Energy and Resources Investment Trust, which invests heavily in coal, oil and gas. Bell was formerly Managing Director of the Global Oil & Gas Group at the Chase Manhattan Bank. She also holds a PhD in Archaeology and is Vice President of the National Museum of Wales. Bell is a founding member of Chapter Zero, a forum for company board members to engage with the issue of climate change. In 2017, she was revealed to have been vetoed by the Welsh Government as the Wales representative on the BBC's board, having been then Culture Secretary Karen Bradley's preferred candidate. [8][18], [19], [20], [21]

Colin Davie is a trustee and secretary of the REF, as well as a director of the Renewable Energy Forum. He is also a Conservative councillor in Lincolnshire, holding a role on the county council as an Executive Councillor for Economy and Place. Davie is a director of Investors in Lincoln, a local property development company. He has been a long-time opponent of wind farm developments in the area, claiming in 2012 that they were “one of the least efficient ways of producing electricity” and calling on the council to “resist the creation of any new wind farms in the county”. At the time, Davie was chairman of the council's Environmental Scrutiny Committee. In 2015, he celebrated the news that a wind project had been cancelled and the following year said he was “extremely disappointed” about the construction of a substation in Lincolnshire to service an offshore wind farm. Davie campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union and has said a “no-deal Brexit” presents a “low risk” to businesses in his region. [8], [22], [23], [24], [25], [26], [33], [34]

Guy de Selliers is listed as a trustee in the latest Charity Commission records but does not appear on the group's website. De Selliers is President and Co-founder of HCF International Advisers, a corporate finance consultancy focused on natural resources and metal mining in particular. HCF's past clients include Western Canadian Coal, Tata Steel and Avalon Rare Metals. De Selliers has more than 40 years of experience in banking, according to his profile, and is on the board of the multinational insurance company Ageas. He was previously Senior Vice President of the now-defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers and Vice Chairman of the Credit Committee at the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD). [35], [37], [38]

Actions

January 19, 2020

REF research suggesting wind farms were “paid up to £3 million per day to switch off their turbines and not produce electricity” was covered by the Telegraph, as well as the Daily Express, the Daily Mail and Breitbart. [39]

January 6, 2019

REF research was published in The Times. The analysis suggested wind companies had received £125m from the government in 2018 to discard excess energy during periods of over-supply, high wind or bottlenecks in the national grid, with the majority going to Scottish wind farms. [2]

June 14, 2018

Constable spoke in a Financial Times energy summit debate on behalf of the REF, opposing the motion “fossil fuels are doomed”. During his speech he said: “for my own part I suspect renewables really are doomed, on physical grounds, and that the axe of thermodynamic reality is already falling.” [27]

June 6, 2018

Constable wrote an article for CapX criticising the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, despite having stated in a 2007 Guardian comment article that he was “not anti-wind farms – but they should be offshore.” [28][14]

April 13, 2016

John Constable gave evidence to a parliamentary hearing alongside representatives of two other anti-wind campaign groups, the Scientific Alliance Scotland and Scotland Against Spin. During an evidence session of the House of Lords' Scottish Affairs committee, he said it was “entirely conceivable” that the country could go back to burning fossil fuels and that he was “certain we will need to build combined cycle gas turbines”. [29]

June 9, 2008

The REF's founding chairman Noel Edmonds gave an interview to the Mirror in which he said: [30]

“You don't have to be a scientist or an academic to know that wind doesn't blow all the time, so they are not reliable. In fact, if the wind blows too hard they have to be shut down.

“Our current policy of encouraging wind farms is fatally flawed. The only people pro-wind are the energy companies - who make a fortune from every taxpayer because of subsidies - and politicians who are terrified of not being seen to be “green”.”

Later in the interview he predicted the UK would begin to suffer regular power cuts as a result of its dependence on renewables.

“They will be occasional at first but I predict that within three years we will get used to them at certain parts of the day,” he said.

“Our lives are going to change forever. The Olympics in 2012 will go ahead. I don't think they will be held in the dark. But what I do guarantee is parts of the UK WILL be in the dark… just so the Olympics can be held. It is vital that people appreciate we're running out of energy at a rapid rate.” [30]

Related Organisations

Contact & Address

The REF's website gives two addresses: [31]

Renewable Energy Foundation

Unit 9, Deans Farm

Stratford-sub-Castle

Salisbury

SP1 3YP

And: [32]

Renewable Energy Foundation

The Loose Boxes,

Phillips Lane,

Stratford-sub-Castle,

Wiltshire, SP1 3YR

Social Media

The REF does not appear to be active on social media.

Resources

  1. Homepage,” Renewable Energy Foundation. Archived January 13, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/MH9Hd

  2. Mark Macaskill. “Scottish wind farms paid almost £10m following Western Link failure,” The Times, September 8, 2019. Archived January 13, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/wip/4Zj5w

  3. Leo Hickman. “Will the real Renewable Energy Foundation please stand up?Guardian, May 18, 2011. Archived January 13, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/wip/QQ2gT

  4. Paul Brown. “Edmonds joins fight against wind farms,” Guardian, July 15, 2004. Archived January 13, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/wip/Ob8xb

  5. About REF,” Renewable Energy Foundation. Archived January 14, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/wip/jgcE4

  6. Energy Policy and Consumer Hardship,” Renewable Energy Foundation, 2011. Archived February 11, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  7. UK Renewable Energy Data Files: 8th Issue,” REF, July 17, 2010. Archived January 14, 2019.

  8. Foundation Trustees,” Renewable Energy Foundation. Archived January 17, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.md/wip/4TKFR

  9. Richard Treadgold. “Prof Kelly shows the middle way,” Climate Conversation, June 5, 2011. Archived April 30, 2019.

  10. Prof. Michael Kelly: Energy Policy Needs ‘Herds Of Unicorns’,” Global Warming Policy Forum, November 12, 2019. Archived November 13, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/Xyaqk

  11. Richard Collett-White. “Climate Science Deniers Took Over BBC Radio 4 For a Morning During the Holidays,” DeSmog, January 6, 2020.

  12. Kyla Mandel. “Anti-Wind Campaigner John Constable Joins Lord Lawson’s Climate Sceptic GWPF Think Tank,” DeSmog, February 16, 2016.

  13. Register of Interests of Lords Members' Staff – by Member's name: letter R,” Parliament. Archived June 18, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  14. John Constable. “We're not anti-wind farms - but they should be offshore,” The Guardian, January 11, 2007. Archived January 23, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/rjjgg

  15. Turbines go-ahead for Suffolk wind farm,” National Wind Watch, July 27, 2007. Archived January 23, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/Od52q

  16. NOWAP stands for NO WIND FARM AT PARHAM,” NOWAP, March 2005. Archived October 20, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  17. NOWAP LTD: Filing history,” Companies HouseArchived January 23, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/KET8m

  18. Dr Carol Bell,” Cardiff UniversityArchived January 17, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/wip/vbICg

  19. Trustees,” National Museum of Wales. Archived January 17, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  20. Carol Bell,” Oil & Gas Council. Archived January 17, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  21. Huw Thomas. “Dr Carol Bell revealed as vetoed BBC board candidate,” BBC, March 13, 2017. Archived January 17, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/wip/LXfEN

  22. Councillor Colin John Davie,” Lincolnshire County CouncilArchived January 17, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/wip/JCnXo

  23. Colin John DAVIE,” Companies HouseArchived January 17, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  24. Caution urged on Lincolnshire wind farms,” Louth Leader, May 25, 2012. Archived January 17, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  25. Is this the end of wind farm wars in Lincs?Horncastle News, August 4, 2015. Archived January 17, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  26. Green light for Triton Knoll windfarm power plans,” BBC, September 6, 2016. Archived January 17, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/3eAST

  27. John Constable. “Speech at the Financial Times energy summit,” Global Warming Policy Forum, June 20, 2018. Archived January 23, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  28. John Constable, “Rampion wind farm is a black hole for taxpayers’ money,” CapX, June 6, 2018. Archived January 23, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/sUgK9

  29. Kyla Mandel. “MPs Slam Anti-Wind Power Campaigners: You Seriously Want To Go Back to Fossil Fuels?” DeSmog, April 13, 2016.

  30. Mike Swain. “Noel Edmonds on how the Government is ignoring the energy crisis,” The Mirror, February 3, 2012. Archived January 30, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/0hNqU

  31. Contact us,” Renewable Energy Foundation. Archived January 14, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.md/AZrQR

  32. Foundation Trustees,” Renewable Energy Foundation. Archived January 17, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.md/wip/4TKFR

  33. Steve Fisher. “Countdown to Brexit: Colin Davie, Executive Councillor for Economy & Place, Lincolnshire County Council,” East Midlands Business Link, December 3, 2018. Archived January 17, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  34. Calvin Robinson. “No-deal Brexit 'low risk' for Lincolnshire according to county's economy chief,” Lincolnshire Live, March 23, 2019. Archived January 17, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  35. Renewable Energy Foundation: 2016-17 annual report,” Charity Commission. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  36. Renewable Energy Forum: People,” Charity Commission. Archived January 20, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  37. Guy de Selliers,” HCF International Advisers. Archived January 20, 2020. Archive.md URLhttp://archive.md/lDbLh

  38. Transactions,” HCF International Advisers. Archived January 20, 2020. Archive.md URLhttp://archive.md/wip/lDbLh

  39. Edward Malnick. “Wind farms paid up to £3 million per day to switch off turbines,” Telegraph, January 19, 2020. Archived January 20, 2020. Archive.md URLhttp://archive.md/wip/3pcLj

  40. NIGEL VINSON CHARITABLE TRUST,” Charity CommissionArchived March 20, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/9Gr5u

Other Resources