The UK could be benefitting from rooftop solar-generated electricity at parity with retail prices and solar farm-generated electricity at parity with new gas CCGT station prices by the end of the decade, according to the Solar Trade Association’s Solar Independence Plan for Britain.

The plan calls for the government to raise its solar ambitions and target a scenario whereby the UK installs 25GW of PV capacity by 2020. The association has outlined six steps that it believes would allow the industry to hit the higher deployment ambition:

  • Adjust feed-in tariffs to drive growth and target zero subsidy in 2020, by increasing the tariff for the 250kW-1MW band, leaving all other tariffs unchanged and accelerating quarterly tariff reductions in the domestic market

  • Safeguard the Renewables Obligation for sub-5MW systems to 2017

  • Allow solar a fairer share of the Levy Control Framework

  • Adapt Contracts for Difference to benefit solar and small businesses

  • Incentivise the incorporation of solar into new build houses and offices

  • Address grid constraints decisively and strategically.

One of the largest constraints perceived to be hampering an increased ambition for solar PV deployment in the UK is the lack of available budget under the Levy Control Framework (LCF). The STA argues that the modelled changes suggested in its Solar Independence Plan could be achieved by allowing solar access to 18.9% of the LCF as oppose to its current 14.6%.

The plan, independently verified by Imperial College London and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, shows that a higher solar ambition from the government could result in the sector employing 57,000 people directly and through supply chains. In addition, the UK would have 2.1 million homes with solar, 24,400 commercial and community arrays and 2,300 solar farms generating clean electricity. The STA calculates that the raised ambition would cost £13 per year on the average household bill.  

Commenting on the report, Paul Barwell, STA CEO said: “Our goal is to secure a strong British solar industry that can beat fossil fuels on price without subsidy, as quickly as possible. If the industry is given the right support this Parliament, it can deliver clean, affordable power at a stable price to the public and to British businesses in perpetuity.”

“Our Solar Independence Plan shows that a carefully structured policy framework would enable government to greatly increase its ambitions for the UK solar industry for surprisingly little additional cost. The global solar market is estimated to be worth US$5trillion to 2035 and we want to see British solar firms winning internationally, as well as at home. We very much hope the Secretary of State, Amber Rudd and the new Conservative government will get fully behind the extraordinary solar opportunity and adopt this plan.”

Under the association’s proposals, the amount of electricity generated from solar PV would be double compared to the government’s current predicted scenario. The STA believes that UK solar could generate 21TWh of renewable electricity in 2020, compared to the government’s predicted 10TWh in 2020 – taking the overall share of PV generated electricity nationally to 6.9% from 3.4%. 

The plan also looks ahead to 2030 and suggests that solar PV will play an integral role in energy generation. The STA predicts that UK solar will help lower energy price inflation, reduce fuel poverty, help stabilise farmer incomes and become a default building and roofing option.

The full Solar Independence Plan for Britain can be viewed here. Solar Power Portal will be analysing key points from the plan throughout the week.