Installation of solar PV panels - via Wikimedia Commons

Installation of solar PV panels – via Wikimedia Commons

Solar Energy UK (SEUK), the solar industry trade association, has published its analysis of the UK government’s proposals for the solar sector published as part of ‘Energy Security Day’ on March 30. 

In its analysis of the government’s plans, SEUK welcomed the government’s continued commitment to 70GW of solar by 2035, and the announcement of a ‘solar taskforce’ to deliver this target which will publish a solar roadmap in 2024.  

They also welcomed the commitment to an action plan “to reduce the development time for transmission network projects and accelerate electricity network connections.” 

Although much of the announcements contained in the government's plans were recommitments to previously announced policies, it remains welcome news to the solar industry that agricultural land classification will not be changed to make it harder to build solar farms. The announcements also made explicit the government’s support for ground-mounted solar. 

SEUK was more cautious in welcoming less explicit commitments in the government's announcements. “The documents allude to maximising the deployment of rooftop solar on commercial properties and simplifying the planning process,” Solar Energy UK’s summary states, adding that they “will continue to lobby Government for a firmer commitment to solar within the building standards.” 

According to UK government statistics, the total solar capacity in the UK in February 2023 was 14.43GW. In their analysis, SEUK says that “the measures outlined in the package will be enough to almost meet Solar Energy UK’s target of 40GW by 2030. However, the expectation is that further efforts will be needed to secure the Energy Security Strategy’s ambition to have 70GW in place by 2035.” 

SEUK also pointed to other commitments in the government plans, which, while positive, need to be made more concrete. The government noted for example that the “industry has also committed to working with DfE to propose new Skills Bootcamps in FY 2023-24 aimed at addressing immediate workforce skills needs in key low carbon sectors.”  

While industry bodies like Solar Energy UK cautiously welcome the plans, key areas like skills shortages are going to require more concrete responses than just commitments from the government to work with the industry.