Solar Power Associations Criticise UK Renewable Energy Report

The latest Renewable Energy Review from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change has drawn criticism from the country’s solar energy industry.

Two leading solar associations claim the report fails to fully and accurately acknowledge the valuable role solar panels can play in the abatement of greenhouse gas and in meeting Britain’s climate goals.

The report examines ways of utilising renewable energy technology for heat, transport and electricity generation to help de-carbonise the atmosphere through to 2030 and beyond, including off-and-onshore wind power, marine (wave and tidal energy), and bioenergy.

The stated aim of the Review is to have a 30 percent (460 TWh) minimum share of the UK’s energy come from clean sources by 2030, with a maximum of 45 percent (680 TWh).

The problem, according to two of the UK’s peak solar industry bodies, the Solar Trade Association (STA) and the Renewable Energy Association (REA), is that while the CCC report mentions solar energy as a viable source of renewable energy in the UK, the costings are all wrong.

The REA says the CCC has mistakenly compared the cost of solar power to wholesale electricity prices, instead of retail electricity prices, which it says is the only truly accurate measure of cost-benefit of solar because it provides electricity directly to the consumer – without the need for the numerous additional costs that are inherent in networked electricity.

Howard Johns, Chairman of the Solar Trade Association, said it was a classic mistake to judge all renewable technologies by one economic standard.

“It is surprising that a body such as the Committee on Climate Change doesn’t get the basic economics of decentralised renewable,” Mr Johns said. “Because solar works directly on your roof it cuts out the costs of networks, supplier profits and all sorts of additional costs. Therefore solar competes directly with what the end-user pays for electricity.”