As the dust continues to settle after the first round of CfD auctions, the debate on the matter is far from over. Many of us have awaited the outcome with a mixture of hope and trepidation, but the results gave little comfort and raised more than a few questions about the level of support and commitment to solar energy.
As a leading force in the UK solar market, Lightsource has always believed that our ability to buy at high volume allows us to compete in the CfD auctions where smaller companies would struggle, as yet another barrier is placed in their path. But we also believe that the solar industry, one of the fastest growing the UK, deserves to be supported and that competition should be encouraged to enable continued growth. It’s shocking to see that just 40MW of solar will be built under the first round of CfDs compared to 749MW of wind projects.
Solar energy is estimated to be the largest global source of power by 2050 and the cheapest source by 2025. It’s clear to us that the solar sector isn’t getting the support it deserves in order to succeed in the UK. In public polls, solar consistently comes out as the “people’s choice” for renewable energy and this general consensus should be given more credence and more steps should be taken to allow the public to decide where their energy comes from in the future.
The government plays an important role in supporting industries to help meet the targets for renewable energy that they have set out. It’s therefore vital that support mechanisms are both fair and sustainable to ensure the best chance of securing the UK’s energy future.
As electricity prices go down, CfDs become a far less attractive subsidy mechanism as more of the “renewables pot” is paid out to meet the strike price. It may be that, in the longer term, the ROC system provides a far better value for money option and fairer deal for the renewables sector, especially smaller developers who face a long uphill battle against the CfD regime. Let’s not forget that the solar industry has created a rush of new UK jobs and Lightsource is testament to this – growing from six staff to more than 350 in just under five years.