The UK Coalition Government needs to rethink its solar energy policy, according a report from the Solar Trade Association (STA).
But while the report urges the Government to do more to support the burgeoning solar industry, it does not call on the Government to scrap its plans to cut feed-in tariff rates for developments over 50 kW by 40-70%.
The STA argues that falling prices mean that the feed-in tariff could be cut by 25% across the board – regardless of size of installation – without damaging sustainable growth in the sector.
However, the Government’s solar strategy comes in for severe criticism in the report.
“The Government has got it wrong on solar. We are on the cusp of a global solar revolution, major markets all over the world recognize that solar energy is critical to our future,” says Howard Johns, chair of the STA.
Germany, he points out, plans to generate 50% of its daytime electricity from solar sources by 2020 with an overall target of 52 GW. By comparison, the UK’s target is a measly 2.7 GW by 2020.
The STA report says that if investment could be doubled to £1.2 billion over the next four years, solar power could achieve parity with the cost of grid electricity by 2017-2019. Kick-starting the sector could also create up to 140,000 by 2015 and as many as 220,000 by 2020.
Solar photovoltaics could meet over 30% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2040 and can be deployed now – yet is excluded from technology cost assessments by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and is hardly mentioned in the Government’s electricity market reform plans.
The STA says that the UK can invest in solar power without placing an undue burden on the consumer. In fact, the association’s figures indicate that the necessary level of investment could be achieved at a cost of just £3 per annum to householders until 2015.
“We are keen… to work with the Government to set realistic targets and to help maximise the benefits and to understand the true potential for solar,” says Johns.
The association is launching a campaign with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to put pressure on the Government to rethink its solar plans and invest in the sector.
For further information:
UK Government’s consultation on solar feed-in tariffs ends (6-May)
E.ON launches scheme to bring solar power to 15,000 UK homes (28-Apr)
Solar industry reacts with dismay to UK Government’s feed-in tariff reforms (21-Mar)
First solar energy plant for UK, a third for California (28-Sept 2010)
06 June 2011