‘Dark Cloud Of Delays’ For UK Solar Industry

UK Environmental Audit Committee Wants Urgent Action To Lower Barriers To Solar & Storage Growth

‘Dark Cloud Of Delays’ For UK Solar Industry

UK solar industry complains of grid connection delays for projects extending beyond a decade in some cases. (Illustrative Photo; Photo Credit: Anita van den Broek/Shutterstock.com)

  • The UK’s EAC has recommended the government urgently look into the challenges of grid connection for solar in the country
  • Lack of physical infrastructure, poor availability of data on solar PV generation across the system, and application queues is slowing progress for the industry
  • It also wants the government to extend 20% VAT discount to household battery storage

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in the UK fears a ‘very considerable shortfall’ in installed solar PV capacity as against the government’s 70 GW target by 2035 if it does not urgently deal with barriers to roll out renewables at speed which is currently hampering the economy, a demand that local solar association Solar Energy UK has welcomed.

The EAC believes solar PV can make a significant contribution to decarbonizing power sector with its technological advancement and one of the lowest levelized costs vis-à-vis other power generation sources.

Nonetheless, a ‘dark cloud of delay hangs over the industry’ as in some cases, customers have to wait for 10 years to 15 years to secure a connection for potential solar installations, it added. Difficulties in securing grid connections is identified by the committee as a key barrier to rolling our renewables at the required speed.

Relating its observations and recommendations post interactions and stakeholder consultation, the committee believes lack of physical infrastructure, poor availability of data on solar PV generation across the system, and a ‘queuing system’ of applications is slowing progress for the industry.

It demands extending the 20% value added tax (VAT) discount on installation of solar PV and storage together, to household battery storage if it needs to be connected to an existing PV array retrospectively to extend the benefits to the grid and bring down high energy costs.

Citing a research from the University of Liverpool, the committee believes for the UK to reach the 70 GW target, it would need to install an average of 361 MW on monthly basis (see Britain Releases New Energy Security Strategy).

“We recommend that the Government works with DNOs and National Grid ESO to seek some short-term solutions to unblock the pipeline of delays given the continuing energy price crisis facing businesses and households—as well as working to deliver long term fixes to improve grid connections,” stated EAC Chairman and MP Philip Dunne.

Pointing at the solar PV industry’s concerns of labor shortage, and potential use of forced labor in Chinese solar manufacturing, the committee also wants the government to encourage solar manufacturing within the country.

The committee has sought a response from Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero and MP Grant Shapps latest by May 17, 2023.

Solar Energy UK’s Chief Executive Chris Hewett added, “It is grossly unacceptable that solar projects with planning consent and with finance ready to go can told to wait more than a decade simply to connect to the grid. The situation is causing billions of pounds of economic damage to the UK.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak led administration recently announced plans to set up a joint taskforce of industry and government on solar energy to resolve skills and supply chain issues.

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

SENIOR NEWS EDITOR Anu is our solar news whirlwind. At TaiyangNews, she covers everything that is of importance in the world of solar power. In the past 9 years that she has been associated with TaiyangNews, she has covered over thousands of stories, and analysis pieces on markets, technology, financials, and more on a daily basis. She also hosts TaiyangNews Conferences and Webinars. Prior to joining TaiyangNews, Anu reported on sustainability, management, and education for leading print dailies in India. [email protected]

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