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The Low Carbon Economy Ltd

03 Jun 2011 12:06:09

Challenge to government to re-think solar in the UK



Challenge to government to re-think solar in the UK
The Solar Trade Association will today launch a report that claims the government is failing to recognize the real potential for solar in the UK. The Alternative Solar Revolution Strategy challenges the government to re-think solar - to increase investment and to provide a clear framework for a Solar Revolution in the UK.

Key Findings
-Government needs to effectively double investment on solar PV to 2015
-That investment will kick start a solar revolution in the UK which will deliver 140,000 jobs by end 2015, 360,000 by end 2020
-Cost to householders will be £3 average per annum until 2015 (£15 in total per household this parliament)
-Average cost over the lifetime of the scheme will be £6.50 - £9.00 per household per annum, depending on timing of reaching grid parity
-Huge potential savings for consumers – on costs of £110 billion expected expenditure on infrastructure over next 20 years

Over the term of this Parliament, the cost of our Solar Revolution Strategy will average just £3 per household per annum, i.e. £15 in total per household to 2015. According to the Report, driving a revolution requires Government investment in solar to be roughly doubled from current plans, therefore total expenditure by the end of 2015 is around £1.2 billion .

BRITAIN’S SOLAR REVOLUTION would deliver around 140,000 jobs by the end of this Parliament and an estimated 360,000 jobs by 2020; encourage inward investment in new manufacturing and improve our energy security. It would also cut carbon emissions and could save consumers billions in infrastructure costs.

Investment in solar significantly reduces the need for expenditure on new ‘grid’ networks and centralised power stations, estimated to be over £110 billion over the next 20 years alone.

With solar, no new expensive infrastructure is required. It is a ‘plug in’ technology, easily deployable now. By investing in it, Britain’s solar revolution could pay for a breakthrough into inflation-free, safe, green power. Done at scale, it could then grow without further subsidy and lead the research that will make costs of solar panels fall even faster.

“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, Chairman of Solar Trade Association. “Germany plans to generate 50% of its day time electricity from solar by 2020 – Germany’s targets are for 52GW of solar energy compared to 2.7GW for the UK by 2020. Community projects have been devastated by government decision making on solar.”

“We recognize that solar is a dynamic and fast-moving technology which needs regular appraisals in a complex context with specialists. We are keen and willing to work with the Government to set realistic targets and to help maximize the benefits and to understand the true potential for solar.”

Solar PV has the potential to meet more than 30% of UK electricity needs before 2040. It is deployable now to meet UK carbon reduction targets. It is accessible and popular, and the industry has been growing rapidly, with decreasing costs, and stimulating employment and growth prospects for the UK economy. And yet solar does not feature significantly in the Government’s over-arching energy outlook.

Solar has been excluded from DECC assessments of technology costs and it’s role is barely mentioned in the Electricity Market Reform proposals. And yet mainstream analysts expect solar to be cheaper than fossil fuel generation before 2020.

“We urgently need a green energy revolution to create new jobs and tackle the twin threats of rising fuel prices and global climate change. Harnessing the power of the sun is essential to the development of a low-carbon economy, but Government funding cuts threaten to kill off this fledgling industry”, says Alan Simpson, Sustainability Advisor to Friends of the Earth.

“Rather than destroying this huge green potential, Ministers should be doing more to help householders, businesses and communities to switch on to solar power – so they can play their part in building a cleaner, brighter future.”

The Solar Trade Association is calling for informed and holistic decision making based on a transparent framework and an accurate analysis of the potential and role for solar in the UK. The STA highlights that current Government policy must be based on up-to-date cost inputs, full assessment of benefits, and full consideration of strategic and practical arguments.

Solar is a democratising technology. It puts the power to generate energy directly in the hands of millions of people, rather than a handful of energy companies.

The solar industry is launching a campaign (supported by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace) calling for a solar revolution in the UK at www.oursolarfuture.org.uk
“We are launching ‘Solar Needs You’, calling on individuals, NGOs, communities and businesses, to put pressure on the government to re-think solar and to invest to build a sector that is good for people, communities, businesses, with huge environmental and costs benefits, and additional growth in jobs and manufacturing – which has to be good for the British economy”, says Howard Johns.

For more information, please contact us through the Our Solar Future website.

We can provide access to the following supporters for interviews/comment:
-Howard Johns - an expert on solar and Chairman of the Solar Trade Association
-Ray Noble – PV expert, Solar Trade Association
-Alan Simpson – Sustainability Advisor to Friends of the Earth, former govt advisor on FiTs
-Doug Parr – Chief Scientist for Greenpeace UK
-Tony Juniper – Environmentalist and Writer


NOTES TO EDITORS

WHAT WE WANT THE GOVERNMENT TO DO …
1. Embrace the future by committing to a solar revolution - don’t decapitate the fledgling UK solar industry by supporting only ‘micro-generation’ schemes.
2. Reduce the Feed-In Tariffs by 25%, for all sizes of PV project. Since the tariffs began, costs have already fallen significantly. This is a sign of success. However if the government cuts the tariff levels at the rate it proposes, which are much more drastic (up to 70%) it will damage the UK’s emerging solar industry so badly we won’t be able to reap the benefits described above.
3. Model the benefits of a healthy new PV industry. For example the avoided costs of new centralised infrastructure; new jobs & manufacturing opportunities; taxes paid to HMT etc. – none of these major benefits have yet been accounted for.
4. Include solar under the Electricity Market Reform agenda to open up a new competitive frontier in UK electricity markets. Solar is far more competitive than the UK Government acknowledges because the costs of solar PV must be compared with the retail electricity price (the price per unit paid by a householder) not the wholesale cost (which is what utilities pay when they buy power from large power generators). This is the right comparison, because the power is generated right where it is needed, avoiding most of the costs of centralised grid electricity.
5. Set out a clear UK pathway for solar to achieve parity with the cost of grid electricity. We estimate current investment in solar needs to roughly double in order to achieve parity by around 2017-2019. This depends on establishing a mature market, which can minimise costs by installing minimum 1GW capacity per annum.
6. Build investor confidence through a transparent and predictable programme of Tariff reductions linked to the installation rate of solar PV.
7. Develop the UK solar market further through introducing a BIPV Tariff , and through regulatory and fiscal measures, including in new build, roof replacements and electric vehicle charging.

Experts from the REA and STA together with members with many years of experience in the global solar PV market have pooled expertise to develop a framework for optimising the economic benefits and delivering a greater proportion of power from solar. 

Add your support to the Solar Needs You campaign

Updates can also be received through Facebook and Twitter

Download the report here ADNFCR-1235-ID-800566706-ADNFCR


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