An image of a NextEnergy Capital owned solar farm in the UK. Image: NextEnergy Capital.
Labour won the general election last week in a “landslide” victory. Image: NextEnergy Capital.

Trade association Solar Energy UK has called on the newly elected Labour government to publish an “ambitious” Solar Roadmap and increase the Contracts for Difference (CfD) allocation in the round 6 budget.

Solar Energy UK, which said in a statement that it expects Labour’s electoral victory to “further accelerate the growth of the solar and energy storage industries”, believes that providing these adjustments to the policy landscape would send a clear signal to the industry to unlock investment.

Labour’s election manifesto heavily included energy policy at its heart. For instance, the Party said it would collaborate with the private sector to “double onshore wind power, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind power by 2030”. Implementing Solar Energy UK’s recommendations would thus aid the party in establishing the UK as a “clean energy superpower”.

Solar Energy UK’s manifesto demands that the UK reach 50GW of solar generation by 2030, with the nation expected to reach 20GW by the end of this year. The trade association foresees the UK having 30GW of zero-carbon storage by the decade’s end.

Allocating further resources to CfD allocation round 6 and tackling planning barriers are seen as utmost priorities. Labour has already committed to tackling lengthy grid connection delays. The party manifesto states that the electricity network is the “single biggest obstacle to the deployment of cheap, clean power generation and the electrification of industry”.

Increasing CfD budget could unlock solar

The CfD scheme has been integral to the UK’s renewable energy aspirations and has supported various technologies, such as offshore wind and solar, in increasing installed capacity and project pipelines.

Allocation round 5 of the scheme, which took place in September 2023, had a budget of £227 million and received backlash from the energy industry for being too small. Because of this, the Conservative government revealed that the sixth round would have a budget of over £1 billion.

It is worth noting that allocation round 5 was a great success for solar, with 56 solar projects collectively securing almost 2GW (1,928MW) of the 3.7GW of capacity awarded. However, the low budget and strike prices meant that no offshore wind projects bid in the auction, causing the UK to miss a huge opportunity to bolster its renewable energy capacity.

The Solar Taskforce and Roadmap

Established in 2023, the Solar Taskforce has been tackling key issues across the UK industry since its formation. The core issues were narrowed down into four specific sub-groups: electricity networks, skills, rooftop solar and supply chains.

The Taskforce, first introduced as part of the Conservative government’s ‘Energy Security Day’ package following calls for its creation in Chris Skidmore’s Independent Review of Net Zero report, aims to accelerate the necessary action to reach the pre-established targets.

According to Solar Energy UK, a roadmap will be published to outline the practical measures to drive the uptake of cost-effective and popular solar energy. The trade association said it would work with the new government to get it published within 100 days.

“We are committed to helping the new government’s national mission to deliver clean power by 2030. Labour’s first year in power will be a critical period for the solar and energy storage sectors – essential for future energy security, lowering energy bills and addressing the climate emergency,” said Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK.

“We have every confidence that the new government will demonstrate a more positive attitude towards the industry and so bolster investor confidence.”