Prime Minister: growth in solar opportunity for sector and wider economy

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that solar "has the potential to play a valuable part of the UK's renewable energy mix" in response to a letter from a coalition of over 150 businesses from the solar industry and beyond who came together last month to warn David Cameron of the threat to Britain's thriving solar industry.

Cameron also stated how he hoped the ongoing discussions between DECC ministers and officials and the Solar Trade Association would continue "as we work together on laying the foundations for the successful future of the solar PV sector in the UK". He added that rapid deployment has "created a significant opportunity for growth in the sector and the wider economy".

The Prime Minister however yet again repeated the Government's emphasis on growth in solar PV on larger scale commercial roofs, without recognising the policy barriers currently in place that are hindering deployment in that sector – in particular the failure at the top end of the Feed in Tariff (FIT).

DECC's own impact assessment shows that the changes they are proposing to the existing FITs will add only 5 to 15 of the largest roof schemes per year and could lead to a cut in overall PV deployment by 2020 of 420MW. [1]

Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association commented:

"Here is what we can do to work together: make absolutely sure that Contracts for Difference will work for solar, retain but review the existing RO to ensure we don't lose the level playing field for solar, and fix the Feed in Tariff for large roofs as soon as possible."

"The solar industry has done its bit to lay the foundations for the successful future of UK solar. But we can't start building the house if the architect keeps changing the designs. Solar can become subsidy-free next Parliament, but only if Government provides a level playing field and stable policy."

The Prime Minister also added that the Government's response to the consultation will be issued "shortly".

The letter to the Prime Minister, which was delivered by the Solar Trade Association on Monday 7 July, was from a wide coalition of both big and small businesses including household names such as IKEA, and asked the Prime Minister to back the UK solar industry. Signatories included Triodos Bank, Ecotricity, KYOCERA, Interface, Good Energy and the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology at Loughborough University.

The letter highlighted the critical importance of commercial and industrial roofs, as well as solar farms, in delivering low-cost solar. It urged the PM to secure the UK industry with an eye on the £78billion per annum global solar market anticipated in 2020. The signatories underlined the very positive benefits that solar parity will deliver for UK businesses including improving international competitiveness, lower energy price inflation and improved electricity sector competition.

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