Lib Dems would restore solar support with 60% renewable electricity target in sight

Image: Dave Radcliffe.

A Liberal Democrat-led government would restore support for solar PV cut by the Conservatives, the party’s election manifesto has stated.

Released today (17 May), the manifesto outlines a raft of clean energy pledges that the Lib Dems have said would contribute towards the country sourcing 60% of its electricity demand from renewables sources – excluding nuclear – by 2030.

Near the top of Lib Dem proposals is the restoration of support for solar PV and onshore wind, while smart grid, energy storage and hydro technologies would also receive substantial support from a Lib Dem government, with a “heavy” investment in research and development pledged as well.

Solar and onshore wind have borne the brunt of Conservative government subsidy cuts since May 2015. David Cameron quickly enforced a manifesto promise to prohibit further deployment of onshore wind, while the Renewables Obligation and small-scale feed-in tariff were significantly trimmed within the second half of that year.

This has resulted in a cliff edge of deployment in solar PV and domestic installations have been hardest hit; installs under the FiT have dropped by circa 80% since the scheme was altered.

While the Lib Dems have offered no specific mentions of which supports would be restored, solar and onshore wind could feasibly be allowed to compete in future Contracts for Difference auctions under the proposals, allowing the technology to be developed in “appropriate locations” as the manifesto suggests.

The Lib Dem pledge to source 60% of electricity from renewables is different to Labour’s promise to derive 60% of energy from renewables, which would also include the troublesome heat sector.

With the Lib Dems joining both Labour and the Green Party in launching election manifestos the energy industry is now left to wait for the Conservative equivalent, which has still to be published.