What did we learn about the future of solar power from the government’s energy review?

solar array below cloudy sky

Key take-aways:

  • The government said it would look to increase the UK’s current 14GW of solar capacity, which it said held the potential to grow five-fold by 2035. This was a little vague for my liking, it did not specify a precise target. if you can’t measure it…you can’t manage it. ‘Has the potential’ to grow is not a specific commitment.
  • Ministers now plan to consult on easing planning rules for solar projects, particularly with regard to installing panels on domestic and commercial rooftops, and deploying ground-mounted solar on non-protected land. They key caveat here is ‘consult’. At some point they need to grasp the nettle and change planning inhibitors for solar and wind. Sometimes these renewable energy sources are not particularly pretty to look at, but then neither is the bombing of innocent civilians in Ukraine and if we really want to starve Putin of cash from his petro-chemical reserves we need to be serious about boosting wind and solar. This means changes in planning regulations.
  • In order to drive up further investment, the government said it would be “looking at facilitating low-cost finance from retail lenders to drive rooftop deployment and energy efficiency measures”. This is good – the devil will be in the detail, and with interest rates rising and inflation at 8-10% an interesting aspiration.
  • The government estimates its enhanced solar ambitions will support 10,000 jobs in the sector by 2028, which is almost double its previous expectations. At the moment the construction, retail, hospitality, logistics, and food production industries are all short of labour. New jobs are super…. finding the people to do them would be better.

Julian Barlow

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