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Govt urged to rethink solar plans

news release

Ministers must rethink planned changes to how solar power schemes are supported or risk derailing Britain’s renewable energy revolution, Friends of the Earth urged today (Monday 7 July 2014).

The call coincides with today’s (Monday) close of a public consultation on proposed changes to solar support schemes, which could reduce the amount of new solar being developed by half.

Last week, ratings agency Moody’s predicted that solar power and offshore wind would drive down the cost of electricity in the UK by the end of the decade and help keep the lights on.

Friends of the Earth’s Energy Campaigner Alasdair Cameron said:

“Ministers are yet again failing to walk the walk on Britain’s solar potential.

“They say their plans are ambitious, yet this proposal attacks solar parks while doing almost nothing to boost large rooftop systems.

“The solar industry has made phenomenal progress in recent years: solar power is already cheaper than new nuclear, could soon be less expensive than gas, and can be installed safely and discreetly in the heart of our communities.

“Ministers must recognise solar’s huge potential and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to plug in to the sun – starting with our schools.

“If every school in the UK installed solar power it could generate enough electricity to power more than 350,000 homes and would earn them more than £1 billion over the lifetime of the panels.”


Notes to editors:

1. Friends of the Earth played a leading role in the campaign for the introduction of the feed-in tariff, which sparked the recent solar boom. The environment charity has successfully challenged previous Government attacks on the policy in court. The most recent changes proposed by the Government revolve around a separate support scheme designed for large scale systems known as the Renewable Obligation (RO). Under the proposed plans the RO will be closed early and solar projects forced to enter a closed bidding system, which will severely limit the ability of small and medium-sized companies to take part. The Government estimates that closing the RO could reduce the number of new large scale solar projects by around 50% (projected solar capacity would fall from 6.3GW to 4.3 GW by 2020, up from around 2 GW today).

2. Moody’s says energy efficiency, new wind power and the return of gas plants will keep power prices in check.

3. Friends of the Earth’s new Schools Run On Sun campaign aims to make it easier for schools to install solar panels and save thousands of pounds through clean energy. Research shows schools could save up to £8,000 per year with solar panels – more money to spend on other things. But many schools struggle to afford the upfront costs of solar panels, which is why Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to allow schools to borrow funds. Solar schools are the first step in making better use of clean energy right across our towns and neighbourhoods. For more information and to help schools go solar, visit the ‘help schools go solar’  webpage.

4. Figures for earnings and energy savings from solar panels are based on a 50 kWp system for every school in the UK. 

For press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust

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