ECIU highlights the damaging effect Clause 48 could have on ground-mount solar in the UK if it passes. Image: Getty.

New analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has found that putting further restrictions on ground-mount solar farms could cost UK bill payers up to £5 billion a year. 

According to the ECIU, ground-mount solar is set to make up 25GW-39GW of the government’s 70GW solar target. However, amendments to the Energy Bill which propose additional restrictions to ground-mount solar will seriously hinder the technology’s development in the UK.

For example, Clause 48 in the Energy Bill amendment suggests ending “the development of large-scale solar plants on BMV (best and most versatile) land and require the Secretary of State to publish plans to incentivise the building of solar on rooftops and brownfield sites.”

If these amendments past the ECIU warned that consumers could face cost increases of between £3 billion and £5 billion a year for their bills, as the UK would remain more reliant on gas than on cheaper renewable alternatives.

“There has never been a cheaper form of energy than solar, and putting even more barriers in place to its roll out will cost the public dear, whilst locking in dependence on imported gas. This makes little sense when new solar farms will only need a tiny fraction of the available farmland, presenting no real risk to food security whilst providing a major boost to Britain’s energy security,” said Tom Lancaster, land analyst at ECIU.

“Solar farms can also lead to real benefits for nature, with wildflowers planted amongst the panels and thick hedges creating new habitats for birds, whilst screening the visual impacts of the development. And food production can also continue in many cases, with sheep and other livestock able to graze underneath and between solar panels, allowing farmers to double up on sources of income.

“With farmers seeking to diversify revenue streams in face of volatile prices and increasingly extreme weather, red tape to halt solar farms would be anti-growth for the rural economy.”