Long-term viability of the UK solar market relies on the gradual reduction in tariffs and government collaboration rather than confrontation.
Developing a market that is independent of subsidy is crucial to safeguard solar energy’s long term success and UK grid parity – the point at which alterative means of generating electricity produce power at an equal or reduced cost than purchasing power from the grid.
The argument, by TGC Renewables, an independent renewable energy project developer, follows a recent court decision that throws into question when solar subsidy reductions will come into effect.
Following a legal challenge from environmentalists and some solar companies, the court ruled that the reduced payment levels had been brought in before the consultation into the tariff changes was completed. As a result, the government’s decision to reduce the (Feed-in Tariff) FiT was considered ‘unlawful’.
This successful legal challenge, though, has only served to increase the pressure on what is an already tight departmental budget, putting the long-term financial support of other clean energy technologies at risk.
If the UK solar sector is to become subsidy free, however, the industry requires increased certainty and decisiveness from UK government.
At present, the government does not appear to consider solar photovoltaic technology to be one of the key renewable sources capable of making a significant, cost-effective, contribution towards hitting UK 2020 targets.
“This,” says, Ben Cosh, director, TGC Renewables, “has simply got to change.
“While the inevitable government cut to the solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) should not – despite a court ruling and the vocal few – spell the beginning of the end for established players operating in the UK solar industry – it does sound a note of caution. Simply put, while the tariff cuts should drive greater efficiencies in the production and installation areas of the market, further action is required in order to foster and promote genuine long-term industry growth.
“UK solar technology has consistently outperformed alternative clean technology, with the market creating jobs and driving growth and innovation both domestically, and overseas.
“However, since the long-term governmental aim is to achieve true grid parity and sustain national energy security, commitments to the solar sector remain a necessity.”