Familiar face for UK solar as Leadsom returns to BEIS as Clark’s successor

The UK solar industry will see a familiar face leading on UK energy policy after ex-energy minister Andrea Leadsom returned to to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to succeed Greg Clark as energy secretary.

Leadsom served as energy minister for just over a year between May 2015 and July 2016 in David Cameron’s last government, before a failed bid to become Conservative Party leader in 2016.

She then served as leader of the House of Commons under Theresa May.

Clark left the government yesterday afternoon as new Prime Minister Boris Johnson began to shape his new cabinet, removing 17 ministers in what constituted the most significant reshuffle from a serving government in decades.

Tunbridge Wells MP Clark confirmed his departure on Twitter, stating that Johnson was right to appoint a new team.

“It has been an honour to serve the country as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for the last 3 years… I am grateful for the support of outstanding civil servants, special advisors and ministerial colleagues during that time,” he wrote.

Leadsom meanwhile said she was “delighted and honoured” to be given the role.

Leadsom takes the position at a critical juncture for the country’s clean economy and green policy, and will be tasked with delivering a legislative framework ambitious enough for the country to transition towards net zero before 2050.

Leadsom’s time as energy minister means the solar sector will have a familiar face at the helm of government energy policy, but her spell at BEIS – or DECC, as the department was known when it combined the energy and climate change briefs during Leadsom’s tenure – will not be remembered fondly.

Her time as energy minister coincided with a stark cut to renewables subsidies and consequent collapse in deployment and new policies said to be in the works to support them – particularly subsidy-free CfDs for proven technologies – never materialised.