Solar Power

Thank you for contacting me about solar power.

As you will be aware, the Government is currently considering the responses received to a recent consultation on Feed-In-Tariffs export-payments alongside the generation tariff for new applications after March 2019. I understand that its response will be published in due course.

I can assure you, however, that the Government is committed to ensuring the UK has secure energy supplies that are reliable, affordable and clean. Our country generates electricity from increasingly low carbon sources and the electricity powering the UK's homes and businesses in 2017 was the greenest ever, with 50 per cent coming from clean sources, up from 19 per cent in 2010.

Ultimately, the UK has been a world leader in cutting emissions while growing our economy, and in doing so has demonstrated to the world what is possible when government and industry come together to tackle big strategic challenges. Much of this however has been paid for through consumer bills, and the Feed-In-Tariff scheme alone carries a legacy cost to bill payers of around £1.2 billion a year for the coming decade.

Last year saw the launch of the Clean Growth Strategy which sets out 50 major policies and plans that will help us to cut the cost of energy, drive economic growth, create high value jobs right across the UK, and improve our quality of life. The Feed-in-Tariff call for evidence reaffirms the Government’s ambition set out in the Clean Growth Strategy to consider its approach to small-scale low-carbon generation and to explore the clear cross overs with a smart energy system.

Ultimately, I believe distributed generation may have a role to play a part in a smarter, more efficient energy system and Ministers should ensure small scale low-carbon technologies have a level playing field as the market for smarter services evolves, rather than continuing to rely on public subsidies.

On the question of new buildings, I believe that compelling construction firms to install solar panels on all new builds would place a heavy cost and burden on the industry, at a time when providing the security of a new home for millions of families is of the utmost importance. The Government is instead encouraging the use of renewables without mandating any particular technology.

Current requirements do not prescribe the technologies, materials or fuels to be used, allowing builders the flexibility to innovate and select the most practical and cost-effective solutions in individual circumstances. These solutions could include solar panels, but they may not be appropriate for some types of buildings or locations. Therefore, the Government has no plans to change the Building Regulations to ensure that all new buildings are constructed with solar panels.

It is also worth noting that the National Planning Policy Framework expects local planning authorities to have a positive strategy in place to promote energy from renewable and low carbon sources. The strategy should identify opportunities where development can draw its energy supply from renewable or low carbon energy supply systems. At the same time, the Government intends to strengthen energy requirements in Building Regulations where there are cost-effective and affordable opportunities, and it is safe and practical to do so.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

November 2018