Green Party’s Caroline Lucas calls for UK solar ‘fight back’

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has called for a “fight back” against negative solar press.   

Addressing a parliamentary seminar yesterday, the MP for Brighton Pavilion said the UK government should do more to “counteract” negative media headlines and run a summer media campaign highlighting the benefits of solar - so smaller solar companies “have a chance”.

Lucas said the “popular misconception” that solar panels on homes are not “economical enough” is causing solar companies to struggle.

During the seminar Lucas singled out The Daily Mail newspaper specifically for damaging solar energy’s public reputation.

In the last three months The Daily Mail has covered solar powered phone chargers to NASA solar panels, alongside headlines "Don’t fall for solar panel flannel!” and “Agony over neighbour’s solar panel”. The Daily Mail did not wish to comment.

Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association (STA), said Lucas' analysis was “absolutely right” and that more needed to be done to get information to the public and stop “controversy” over solar.

Greene continued: “We would welcome more support from the government, it doesn’t have to be expensive campaigns and advertising – ministers make comments on a daily basis, which is an opportunity for solar, there are lots of creative ways government could help.”

The STA also said it had been planning its own media campaign, but that it had been “derailed” because of headlines from the ongoing EU-China solar trade row.

The seminar was held by the the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group (PRASEG) and titled: ‘EU and China solar: a clear and present danger to the UK solar PV sector?’ 

Other industry figures including chairman of the British Photovoltaics Association Reza Shaybani, president of EU ProSun, Milan Nitzschke and Paul Barwell, CEO of the STA, attended the seminar to discuss the European Commission’s upcoming decision on Chinese dumping regulations. The EC and China are currently seeking a negotiated settlement to the trade investigation ahead of the 6 August, after which the commission's 11.8% tariffs on Chinese solar equipment will increase.