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Solar could be cheaper than fossil fuels in next Parliament, groups write to PM

news release

Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and The Solar Trade Association have published an open letter to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, saying that solar power could be cheaper than fossil fuels in the next Parliament – but only with “consistent and stable policies ” from Government.

The letter comes as the Department of Energy and Climate Change today (Thursday 2 October 2014)confirmed that it will end the Renewables Obligation support mechanism for large-scale solar energy two years early, in favour of Contracts for Difference (CfDs).

Households and rooftop solar systems will not be affected, but developers wishing to set up other solar projects larger than 5MW will need to compete against other kinds of renewable energy for annual support allocations. The groups warn that this sudden change will put jobs in danger, as the bidding system is complex and requires considerable risk, and it could see many smaller companies and communities locked out of the energy market in favour of large players.

Friends of the Earth Renewable Energy Campaigner Alasdair Cameron said:

“This move will undermine large-scale solar while doing nothing to boost rooftop alternatives – bad news for jobs, the climate and people wanting to plug into clean power.

“Solar could be cheaper than fossil fuels in just a few years, but it needs a little more help from Government to get it there. Failure to invest now will mean a huge missed opportunity for the UK economy.

“The new Contracts will only benefit the existing energy establishment of big companies and developers. Instead of throwing up yet more barriers for small businesses and community groups, Ministers should be making it easier for everyone to reap the benefits of solar energy.”


Notes to editor:

1. Anyone can add their signature to the open letter to David Cameron and Nick Clegg:

2. The Government’s response to the consultation, published today, is available here.

3. Friends of the Earth first raised concerns about today’s changes in June 2014, when the Government first put its plans out for consultation.

4. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Solar Trade Association share concerns about the Government’s overall ambition for solar power. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Solar Trade Association share concerns about the Government’s overall ambition for solar power. The first CfD allocation round will see solar and wind developers competing for funds of £65 million, only enough for approximately 800MW of large-scale solar or 500MW of onshore wind, if all spent on one technology.

5. Friends of the Earth wants to see a huge uptake in community energy projects and is particularly concerned that the Government may review the Renewables Obligation for solar developments smaller than 5MW if too many firms and groups try to use it.

6. Earlier this week the International Energy Agency said solar could be the biggest power source in the world by mid-century.

7. Third quarter figures on global clean energy investment published today, by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, show that the UK is behind on clean energy investment, at $789m, down from $3.1bn a year as policy uncertainties have taken a toll.

8. The Ernst & Young renewables attractiveness index for September 2014 shows that the UK has fallen down the rankings because of ‘political apathy, dwindling budgets and mixed policy signals’ .

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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