The Prime Minister David Cameron believes that solar has been a “huge success story for the renewables industry”.
Cameron, who was supposed to deliver a statement in person to those gathered for the British Photovoltaic Association’s annual Christmas drinks but couldn’t due to last minute diary conflicts, acknowledged that UK solar will play an increasingly important role in UK energy.
Speaking on behalf of Cameron, Greg Barker the former minister for energy and climate change and now acting as the Prime Minister's Climate Envoy, reassured the audience that Cameron was a “champion of the UK solar industry” despite his absence.
Barker read the following statement from Cameron: “Solar has been a huge success story for the renewables industry and has an important role to play in our diverse energy mix and, where appropriately sited, solar is rightly popular and on current trends becoming ever more affordable — with solar likely to become the first renewable to be genuinely cost competitive with gas.”
Barker continued: “You [the UK solar industry] want long-term certainty. You don’t want any shocks and, speaking on behalf of the Conservative party, I can also tell you that we don’t want any shocks — particularly next May.
“We know what you want: you want no handbrake turns; long-term certainty. That is what this industry needs to really drive you to that 20GW vision.”
Barker told the audience that the industry’s achievement of installing 5GW of solar since 2010 was “extraordinary”. Looking ahead, Barker said that he was excited about the opportunity presented to UK plc by commercial rooftop solar, he said: “Far too long have they [commercial rooftops] been overlooked here in the UK and now we are going to play catch-up big time with our competitors from Europe.”
Reza Sheybani, chairman of the BPVA, agreed with Barker that the UK solar industry craved stability and called on whichever government was in power to maintain the current feed-in tariff structure when the scheme has its next major review next year.
Earlier that day, Cameron told the Commons Liaison Committee that Brits were “fed up” of onshore wind farms, adding: “enough is enough and I am very clear about that”. The Prime Minister also defended the government’s shale gas plans, stating that the “religiosity” of anti-fracking groups was misplaced and that he would welcome fracking in his constituency of Witney, Oxfordshire.