New energy minister Richard Harrington has once again raised the prospect of the inclusion of solar in future Contract for Difference (CfD) allocations, claiming no decisions have been made to exclude the technology from upcoming auctions.
The MP for Watford, who was appointed to the role last month, was answering a written question from Labour’s Stephen Timms, who asked what plans were being developed by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to increase the use of wind power and solar energy for electricity generation.
After reiterating BEIS’ decision to hold a CfD auction in August for “emerging technologies” including offshore wind, Harrington added: “No decisions have been taken on future Contract for Difference allocation rounds for onshore wind, solar and other established renewable technologies. We will set out details in due course.”
Solar has been repeatedly excluded from CfDs as an established or mature technology which previous energy minsters, such as current home secretary Amber Rudd, said did not need this form of subsidy.
However, Harrington is said to be considering this stance within his first weeks as energy minister and follows the first signs that BEIS was reconsidering its position back in October.
Following a warning from the Committee on Climate Change of a policy gap in support for mature generation technologies like solar, the government’s response said BEIS would “set out our plans for mature technologies (pot one) in due course”.
However, with this statement made almost a year ago and there remains no clear timetable for any decisions to be made on the subject.
There are hopes that the upcoming Clean Growth Plan, which itself will have been delayed by almost ten months by the time it is published in September, will include some provision for support for established technologies like solar.
However it is not known what form this could take, with previous mentions of subsidy free, or ‘market stabilising’, CfDs seemingly disappearing from the department’s lexicon.