Solar industry welcomes expected fifth carbon budget but important questions remain

The Solar Trade Association has welcomed the fact that the Government is widely expected to adopt the UK’s fifth carbon budget today to require a 57% reduction in emissions from by 2032 compared to 1990 levels.

However whilst the trade body applauds the Government for another clear statement of long-term ambition, important short and medium-term questions remain.

The Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) clear advice last November was that the Government should set a budget to follow the ‘lowest cost path’ to the long-term target and crucially that it should avoid stop-start investment. The committee pointed to a ‘critical weakening of policies’ after the election, including the cancellation of Zero Carbon Homes and expressed its concerns about the growing shortfall in delivering the fourth carbon budget for the period 2023-2027. The body also spelled out that ‘favourable sites for [large] solar are likely to be as cheap or cheaper than gas-fired generation by 2020’.

Jonathan Selwyn, Chairman of the Solar Trade Association and Director of Solar Consulting Ltd, commented:

“The Solar Trade Association very much welcomes the strong support expressed for solar by the Committee on Climate Change and by the Minister in her evidence to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee yesterday.”

“However, in our meeting this week with Minister Andrea Leadsom we urged her Department to take specific actions to address the significant slow-down in the industry following the recent changes to the solar support framework. We believe that a number of relatively minor changes could help stimulate the market.”

“As an industry we are on the path to a subsidy-free future, we hope by the early 2020s. To achieve this, we need a flourishing UK industry and a government that allows us to compete on a level playing field with other renewables as well as nuclear and gas.”

Seb Berry, Vice-Chairman of the Solar Trade Association and Head of Public Affairs at Solarcentury also commented. He said:

“It doesn’t make sense for the Government to continue to restrict the deployment of large-solar in the UK, while simultaneously preparing to ring-fence post 2020 Levy Control Framework spending on the hugely expensive Hinkley Point from 2023. It’s disappointing that a Government that is publicly committed to promoting ‘cost-effective’ renewables continues to block any prospect of a second Contracts for Difference auction round for the very cheapest renewables, including solar.”

“Yesterday Minister Andrea Leadsom told the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee that the Government now projected a total of 13 GWp of solar deployed in the UK by 2020. This represents a significant rowing back from Ministers’ previous ambition for 20 GWp or more by the end of this decade.”

“With solar prices falling further and with Ministers continuing to emphasise the importance of cutting ‘subsidy’, the Government should be working with us to ensure further growth of this cheap technology into the 2020s, particularly when the Committee on Climate Change estimates that 40 GWp by 2030 is possible.”

For further information or to request an interview, please contact:

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Background on the Solar Trade Association:

The mission of the Solar Trade Association is to empower the UK solar transformation. We are paving the way for solar to deliver the maximum possible share of UK energy by 2030 by enabling a bigger and better solar industry. We represent both solar heat and power, and have a proven track record of winning breakthroughs for solar PV and solar thermal.