Lightsource chief hits back at government comments over subsidy-free solar

  • Boyle.

    Boyle has hit back at the government's use of claims his company can deploy subsidy-free solar. Image: Lightsource.

Lightsource chief executive Nick Boyle has hit back at the government’s linking of his company to subsidy-free solar deployment this year in an open letter.

In recent weeks Lightsource has been used as an example by government to justify cuts to renewable energy subsidies, with DECC ministers having used evidence given by Boyle during a select committee hearing last November.

Boyle discussed how Lightsource could deploy solar without the need of subsidy but only through private-wire agreements, statements which were later expanded upon by the company earlier this year.

Boyle has now said those claims have been taken out of context, and used by the government to justify subsidy cuts.

Energy minister Andrea Leadsom has used Lightsource’s example in written responses to parliamentary questions, stating that; “Lightsource, the biggest solar developer in the UK, have said publically that they will be installing and connecting subsidy-free sites in 2016.”

Lord Bourne referenced the same claims earlier this week when giving evidence before the select committee on setting the fifth carbon budget. “If we can do these things without subsidy, why on earth would we pay subsidy?” he said.

Boyle has responded through an open letter addressed to secretary of state Amber Rudd, imploring that DECC only use Lightsource as an example of subsidy-free solar when the “crucial distinction” of private wire projects is included.

“…the economics and rationale for these types of solar PV projects are very different from projects that feed directly into the national electricity grid and provide green electricity to the wider British public.

“The economics of solar PV are currently such that Lightsource will not be able to grow the UK’s solar generation capacity without subsidy on non-private wire projects in 2016,” he said.

Boyle’s letter also mentions how Lightsource has “repeatedly stated” the need for support to remain in place for solar, particularly on residential, commercial and industrial rooftops, and has renewed calls for an adjustment to the levels of support to reflect current cost levels.

Since the former feed-in tariff regime closed on 15 January, just under 15MW of residential (>10kW) solar and a further 13.9MW of commercial and industrial (10kW+) solar has been installed, far below what DECC expected to be installed and set out in the cap limits.

However during this morning’s DECC oral questions session Rudd stressed her opinion that the industry was “still seeing high levels of installations”.

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