With 13.5 GW cumulative solar power capacity till the end of April 2020 in the UK, the country's solar industry lobby group STA believes its high time to exploit the country's solar’s potential, recommending a target of 40 GW by 2030. Pictured is the Thames River Bridge in London. (Photo Credit: Susan Yin/www.goodfreephotos.com)
- STA has written to the BEIS calling the government to unleash the potential of solar in the UK by setting up a 40 GW target by 2030
- This target, if set, will enable the country to create thousands of jobs in the clean energy industry and steer it on to the path of green recovery
- A policy paper has been formulated by the STA to suggest a possible roadmap and policy priorities to this aim
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The UK Solar Trade Association (STA) has called out to the British government to commit to a solar power capacity target of 40 GW for the country to be achieved by 2030. This, the STA stresses, will unleash the potential of solar in the UK, creating thousands of skilled jobs across the country while ensuring green recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
Till April 2020, the UK had a cumulative installed solar power capacity of 13.5 GW with the pandemic pulling down its Q1/2020 additions to a mere 35.6 MW.
In a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Alok Sharma, the STA says this proposed 40 GW target aligns with the recommendations of Britain’s top climate advisors, referring to the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to the government for the UK needing 54 GW of solar PV capacity by 2035 to meet the its net zero targets.
STA points towards the falling costs of solar, its ability to scale up and high labor intensity to make its point while bringing attention to the fact that a record level of new solar capacity of 738 MW was added to the planning pipeline in April 2020 taking the cumulative to over 8 GW. Of this amount, more than 2 GW have secured planning approval.
STA has attached a policy paper with the letter that details 3 immediate policy priorities for the government in this direction, namely:
- Maximize routes to market and improve investor confidence by implementing a robust Contracts for Difference (CfD), setting aside a budget for Pot 1 (solar and onshore wind), regular 6-monthly auctions, and no capacity caps.
- Undertake a green tax reform to ensure continued sustainable growth while exempting rooftop solar and battery storage from business rates, just as there is tax treatment for gas combined heat and power (CHP).
- Support innovation and energy efficiency to improve the UK’s property portfolio by implementing ambitious new build minimum energy efficiency standards as set out in the Future Homes Standard consultation, and enabling access for domestic and commercial entities to green finance for solar and storage installations. It could be in the form of grants, zero interest loans or other fiscal incentives.
“The STA is confident that with the right stimulus package and policy interventions the solar industry can play a critical role in supporting a rapid economic recovery in the UK, creating thousands of local, high quality jobs, generating billions in direct and indirect GVA, and delivering on the Government’s net zero commitments,” reads the letter written by STA Chief Executive Chris Hewett.
Recently, BEIS Secretary Sharma earned appreciation of the UK solar industry after he gave green light to what is being called as the country’s largest subsidy-free solar and storage farm with 350 MW capacity.