UK Solar Breathes A Sigh Of Relief

UK To See ‘A Lot More’ Solar Power Generation Under Rishi Sunak Administration, Confirm Ministers; Solar Energy UK Calls It ‘Turning Point’ For RE Sector

UK Solar Breathes A Sigh Of Relief

Rishi Sunak administration has indicated its support for solar energy expansion on farmland, taking a different approach from his predecessor Liz Truss. (Photo Credit: Solar Energy UK)

  • UK ministers have assured solar industry that the government does not plan to impose restrictions on the use of 3b farmland for solar farms
  • It will not stop farmers who want to deploy solar on their farms to diversify their income, but will opt for a balanced approach
  • Solar Energy UK has welcomed the developments as it is critical for the country to expand solar energy to deal with threat of climate change

 

The UK government under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has put to rest fears of the solar industry by confirming that the administration is looking at ‘a lot more’ solar generation farms coming up in the country, including on high-grade farmland to moderate quality ‘3b’ land, according to Solar Energy UK.

Confidence also comes with the Farming Minister Mark Spencer telling The Guardian that the government has no problem with farmers putting solar on their land to diversify their income, but that it needs to be a balanced approach.

The news is significant since Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss was not in favor of freeing up farmland to be used for solar energy installations to ensure food security. Even Sunak during his leadership campaign said he wasn’t inclined to have solar farms on agricultural land.

Now, according to the local solar association Solar Energy UK, Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey has backed solar generation on farms and is not considering an extension of planning protections for 3b land, in fact it shall encourage it. She is keener on exploring brownfield sites for solar plants. Nonetheless, the government stand will be clearer with a review of land use to be released in H1/2023.

The association explains that lower grade lands rated 4 and 5 are usually counted in areas that are far off the grid, meaning additional costs related to transmission and dealing with development restrictions. Hence 3b land works better, both for farmers as well as for PV developers.

Terming these developments ‘a turning point’ for the entire renewables sector especially in times of high electricity bills and threat of climate change, Solar Energy UK’s Chief Executive Chris Hewett said, “It will be a great relief to the solar industry to hear that that Thérèse Coffey supports existing planning rules, which have successfully encouraged development away from the best-quality agricultural land while recognizing the critical need to expand solar farms in response to the climate and energy price crisis. This looks like a significant shift from the anti-solar rhetoric of her predecessor.”

Under its Energy Security Strategy, the UK aims to grow its installed solar power capacity from 14 GW to about 70 GW by 2035, translating into an average of 4 GW annually (see Britain Releases New Energy Security Strategy).

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews. Anu is our solar news whirlwind. At TaiyangNews she covers everything that is of importance in the world of solar power.

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