The UK is in danger of missing its post-2020 carbon targets unless key policies are strengthened, according to a report published today by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Although the committee endorsed the deployment of solar it has warned that major PV deployment in the UK will rely on the development of low-cost storage.

The CCC notes that if the current rate of decarbonsiation is kept up, future carbon budgets will not be met. Current policies will only deliver emission reductions between 21-23% from 2013 to 2025, someway short of the required 31% reduction.

The report warns that a high degree of uncertainty over support for low-carbon technologies is hampering deployment of renewables beyond 2020.

However, the CCC has advised the government against investing in solar PV in the short term. Whilst the committee wants government to provide more certainty over which portfolio of technologies it will support, the CCC warned that solar PV’s generation profile was poorly matched to UK demand.

The report states: “Internationally the costs of solar have come down considerably in recent years, and even in the UK its generation costs are approaching other mature low-carbon options (e.g. onshore wind). However, the economics of solar generation in the UK are undermined because its generation profile is poorly matched to UK demand (i.e. solar output is high in summer and demand is high in winter).

“Until cost-effective seasonal storage or low-carbon back-up options are developed further, it is appropriate to limit investment in solar power, while not ruling out that much higher penetration may become appropriate in future. The government should consider imposing limits on funding for solar generation under the Levy Control Framework, in the absence of which investment in other technologies may be displaced, or affordability issues exacerbated.”

In a recent press briefing, Juliet Davenport CEO of utility company, Good Energy, told Solar Power Portal that solar PV’s generation profile was actually a perfect match for domestic demand in March and April. Davenport also noted that Good Energy actively tries to balance solar and wind capacity megawatt for megawatt because the technologies’ generation profiles complement each other.

The CCC is critical of the government’s energy efficiency record, noting that the rate of deployment actually plummeted after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) introduced the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation. The committee has recommended that the department raises its ambition on energy efficiency.

Commenting on the UK’s progress, Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, concluded: “Climate Change demands urgent action. We have started on the road and we are being joined by much of the rest of the world. However, despite our success, the UK is still not on track to meet our statutory commitment to cut emissions by 80%.

“The longer we leave it, the costlier it becomes. This report shows the best and most cost-effective ways to ensure we meet our targets. There is no time to lose.”

The full report can be viewed here.