Amber Rudd: Government ‘looking carefully’ at cost of solar subsidies

Amber Rudd, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, has warned that the government is “looking carefully” at solar subsidies as a result of budgetary overspend.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Rudd explained: “There has been a lot of subsidy in this area – a lot. More than people anticipated when the feed-in tariffs and the renewable obligation were set up and we have to find ways of supporting solar that doesn’t involve subsidy.”

The secretary of state continued: “We are reviewing the feed-in tariff now and your readers will know that when the Levy Control Framework was analysed as part of the budget it was considerably above budget – we will have to look very carefully at the cost going forward, and I think the industry is expecting that.”

Asked where the government would ideally like to see solar deployed, Rudd countered: “I’d like to see solar at grid parity. I’d like to see lots of solar without subsidy – that’s the ideal outcome.”

“I would like to see as much solar as we can afford, continuing to expand,” added Rudd. “I’m going to continue to make it clear that we would like to see as much solar as possible, within the caveat of the fact that we have to be very careful about people's bills.

“It’s my job to make sure we get that balance of encouraging solar wherever we can but also make sure that people’s bills don’t continue to escalate.”

The LCF budget is rumoured to have run away under coalition rule and forecasts from market intelligence firm Cornwall Energy and the Telegraph suggest that the Department of Energy and Climate Change could record an overspend of between £1.5 billion and £2 billion by 2020.

Amber Rudd was attending the official opening of phase two of the Ketton Solar Farm – a 13MW ground-mount project that provides energy to the Ketton Cement Works in Rutland, jointly developed by Lark Energy and Armstrong Energy. Opening the solar farm Rudd said: “It is fantastic to see the juxtaposition of energy-intensive industry working hand-in-hand with renewables. Often there is a perception that it is one or the other, you can’t have them working well together.”

Rudd concluded: “I know how important the solar industry is to the UK. It is one of the great British success stories and it’s fantastic to see here a great success in an unusual setting.”