UK Government Urged to Throw Weight Behind 'Thriving' British Solar
Over 150 companies have co-signed a
letter to the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, urging him to support Britain’s
thriving solar industry.
Signatories include furniture retailers
Ikea, green power companies, Good Energy and Ecotricity, and Loughborough
University, with small companies directly involved in the solar PV industry
representing the majority of supporters.
The letter was timed to coincide with
the closing of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) consultation
on proposals to remove Renewable Obligation support for solar farms over 5MW,
described as a “kick in the teeth” to the sector.
The letter emphasises the benefits of
developing UK solar at all scales – developing a healthy commercial, residential
and solar farm market, in order to take advantage of the predicted ￡78 billion
(US$133 billion) per annum global solar market in 2020. However, the signatories
believe that the current policy framework makes this target
Paul Barwell, chief executive of
industry body the Solar Trade Association explained: “Solar is a home-grown
solution to Britain’s energy crisis. If the government provides a stable policy
environment solar will soon be subsidy free. But the government is now proposing
to tilt the playing field against large-scale solar, while not taking sufficient
action to unlock commercial rooftop solar – that is unacceptable.”
“We urge DECC not to close the
Renewables Obligation to large-scale solar and to rethink proposals on feed-in
tariffs to allow a meaningful rooftop market which their own Solar PV Strategy
recognises has such tremendous potential.”
Barwell concluded: “So serious are the
implications of these consultations for the British solar industry that we are
asking the Prime Minister to intervene. We only need one more push, one more
period of policy stability to be able to compete with fossil fuels without
support. That is the global race the PM needs to win for the UK economy and the
Jeremy Leggett, chair of charity
SolarAid and non-executive chairman of EPC firm SolarCentury added: "Despite all
of the incredible achievements of the UK solar industry since 2010, it's still
very clear that the Whitehall mindset has yet to catch up.
“Too much of the wording in the current
solar consultation has the whiff of Groundhog Day about it. It's time that the
government woke up to the fact that, with stable support, jobs rich UK solar
will be cheaper than onshore wind during the next Parliament, opening up immense
opportunities for UK PLC and driving down the costs of delivering the 2020
renewable energy target in the process.
“Far from slamming the brakes on
large-scale solar, the Prime Minister should be hailing it as one of Britain's
renewable energy success stories and getting behind it. Instead he prefers to
push fracking, even in National Parks."
The STA claims that DECC’s entire reason
for revising support for large-scale solar is unfounded. The association
calculates that solar farms only account for 5% of RO expenditure, and therefore
rejects the claim that solar farm deployment is threatening the levy control
In addition, the STA is extremely
critical of the government’s apparent push to promote the deployment of
commercial rooftop solar, labelling the outlined proposals as “wide of the
mark”. As a result, the STA is asking government to issue another consultation
to ‘properly address’ the barriers to rooftop solar deployment.
The letter will be delivered to the
Prime Minister’s residence, 10 Downing Street today at midday today.
P.S. The letter can be viewd
Dear Prime Minister, We are writing to
express our concern about the levels of uncertainty in the solar power industry
as a result of recent proposed policy changes by your energy department. We urge
you to act to secure the UK solar industry and to strengthen the UK’s position
in the soaring global solar market estimated at over $130bn by 2020.
On larger commercial and industrial
roofs, and in ground-mounted schemes solar is the second cheapest major
renewable in the UK. Overly restricting solar’s growth in these cost-effective
applications therefore makes no sense from a consumer value
Solar is a secure, home-grown solution
to Britain’s energy crisis. Thousands of UK businesses have already invested in
onsite solar power in order to reduce their climate impact and to benefit
directly from more stable energy costs. The UK industry comprises over 2,000
SMEs, directly employing 16,000 people. 61% of the value of large-scale solar
investment accrues to the UK, higher than for many other energy sources. The
potential for further employment, innovation and growth across the industry is
exceptional, as international experience shows.
Just a short period of stable Government
support is needed to deliver subsidy free solar in the UK (by the end of the
next Parliament). We very much welcome the very positive benefits solar parity
will deliver for UK businesses including improving international
competitiveness, lower energy price inflation and improved electricity sector
We would like to request a meeting with
you as soon as possible to discuss these issues further.
We urge you to back the UK’s emergent
solar power industry and take into account the industry’s responses to the
Government’s consultation on changes to financial support for solar PV which
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