Solar power to thrive without subsidies in UK by 2020

THEMA1, a think tank in Berlin, has announced that Britain will have a thriving solar power sector without the need for subsidies by 2020, based on the falling cost of parts and vast improvements in the supply chain in the industry.

Using evidence from the German market, such as price signals and business activity, the report found that within the next decade large scale solar farms, commercial rooftop systems, and even residential rooftop systems would be affordable without government help.

Last month, German energy giant E.ON announced that due to the falling cost of the technology it was switching out the fossil fuel half of its business and converting to solar and wind production instead.

The report claims that this move will have a significant effect on the German energy market and predicts a similar occurrence in the UK sometime soon.

By 2015, it says, solar will out do gas and oil in terms of annual installations, to become to leading source of new power generation globally. The fast pace of innovation in the technology has also lead to a 20% decrease in cost for every doubling of capacity.

The report, called In Sight: Unsubsidised UK Solar, comes as Britain increasingly depends on wind and nuclear power for its clean energy quota and pushes solar aside. This is despite the fact that solar power has the fastest installation rate in the UK, taking just 1.1 years from planning application to generating its first volts, compared with 5.4 years for offshore wind farms and 12 years for nuclear energy.

The author of the report, Gerard Reid, said: “Our message to the UK government is to reduce support for solar but do so gradually.”

The report recommends that the UK government’s policymakers:

  • Reduce the impact solar power will have on energy prices by shifting price-based support to low-interest credit, and give grants for domestic battery packs which boost the value of unsubsidised domestic solar systems.
  • Support measures to optimise the integration of renewable energy into the national grid, including using smart meters and increasingly digitising the grid.
  • Gradually reduce support for solar. Give grants for residential solar batteries and low-interest credit via the Green Investment Bank.