STA calls for 2030 solar target

The STA is calling for the government to commit to a target of 40GW of solar capacity by 2030, in a letter to Alok Sharma, Secretary of State of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and has published a new policy paper which outlines how this can be achieved, and contribute to the green recovery.

STA chief executive Chris Hewett said; “Now is the time for the government to commit to action. A 40 gigawatt target aligns with the recommendations of Britain’s top climate advisors, and the industry is ready to scale up operations to deliver this, with the support of a robust policy framework.

“Unleashing the potential of solar in the UK would rapidly create thousands of skilled jobs across the country. Our industry can help to spread the green recovery from Land’s End to John O’Groats.”

Immediate priorities to boost markets

To unlock the recovery potential of UK solar, the paper calls for the government to focus on the following immediate priorities which will boost the ground-mount, commercial rooftop and residential markets respectively:

  1. Maximise routes to market and improve investor confidence
  • Implement a robust Contracts for Difference design to maximise solar deployment, including a sufficient budget for Pot 1 (solar and onshore wind), regular 6-monthly auctions, and no capacity caps.

2. Implement green tax reform to ensure continued sustainable growth

  • Except rooftop solar and battery storage from business rates, in line with government tax treatment of Gas CHP (Combined Heat and Power).

3. Support innovation and energy efficiency to improve the UK’s property portfolio

  • Implement high, ambitious new build minimum energy efficiency standards keeping to the timelines set out in the Future Homes Standard consultation.
  • Provide access to green finance for domestic and commercial entities to install solar and storage through grants, zero interest loans or other fiscal incentives.

The paper outlines a further seven policies that the government should implement in the medium-term to further unlock the potential of UK solar, including powering the Civic Estate with 100% renewables, scrapping VAT for solar and battery storage, and strengthening the UK’s commitment to carbon pricing.

Scotland saw record breaking green energy production this year, with a sunny March and May resulting in the highest total production at Mackie’s of Scotland’s solar farm, since installation in 2016.

Mac Mackie, managing director and one of three sibling owners, said; “It’s nice to be able to talk positively about the weather in Scotland for a change! April really was out the ordinary and the solar farm’s spike in energy production shows the extent of that.

“We also had a record in February and if June comes close to the summer of 2018 we could be looking at our best ever year for solar energy.”

In 2020 Solar has contributed to a record period of 67 coal-free days and counting, generating over 4TWh since lockdown began. The technology has continued to break records throughout 2020, including contributing to a new lowest carbon intensity record for the grid, set on Sunday 24 May 2020, during a month where solar power met over 11% of UK electricity demand. There is approximately 13.5GW of solar currently deployed in the UK.