Solar Energy UK ‘manifesto’ calls for energy overhaul to hit net-zero targets

  • Solar Energy UK sets out solar ‘manifesto’ in time for election
  • Big changes needed in tech, investment and jobs
  • More low-income households need solar panels
  • UK should be aiming for 50GW of solar by 2030, says trade body
Solar panels on a roof

 The Government’s current target is to achieve 70GW of solar by 2035

Solar Energy UK has set out plans to make solar energy affordable for low-income households and work with the government on investment, jobs and the national network as part of a post-general election roadmap to help the UK achieve its green targets. 

In its Solar and Energy Storage Manifesto the industry body said the UK needs to increase its solar energy and zero-carbon energy storage capacities, by 2030 to 50GW and 30GW respectively, if it is going to end its reliance on fossil fuels. 

This aligns with the government’s current target of 70GW of solar by 2035. 

Solar Energy UK’s short term aim is to have 20 gigawatts of solar generation capacity in place in the UK by the end of 2024, supplemented by 8GW of storage capacity. 

However, if the UK is going to make the most of solar power, it must make substantial changes to its domestic market, such as making it easier to invest, plan and work in the solar energy industry.

“There is a global race to deliver clean power, not only to solve the climate crisis, but also to bring secure, affordable energy for all,” Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of the trade association Solar Energy UK said.

“The solar energy sector is now leading that race worldwide and Britain needs a government that fully embraces solar so we can reap the benefits for our economy, people and environment.” 

Solar Energy UK’s roadmap is divided into five areas, which we expand on below:

  • Bringing the benefits of solar and storage to new homes
  • Embracing UK solar
  • Building skills for British green jobs
  • Turbo-charging the network for net zero
  • Implement a renewables-first approach to market reform

Bringing the benefits of solar and storage to new homesto meet the 2030 targets, the UK must add to its 1.5 million small scale solar panel installations and make it easier for low-income households to access solar and storage technologies.

To achieve this, it called for building standards to be “overhauled urgently” and for the introduction of peer-to-peer energy trading, which would incentivise communities, businesses and schools to trade solar power and invest in local projects.

Embracing UK Solar as well as helping low-income households access solar technology, the group also said the government needs to reform planning processes if it is going to attract investment. 

It said while there is an interest from investors in projects of all sizes, the government needs to set consistent planning standards, otherwise it risks losing investment in the long run. 

“Lighting the way to a renewable future means resolving both an inconsistent planning regime and a lack of joined up thinking on the symbiotic relationship between energy security, food security and restoring nature,” the trade body stated in its manifesto, adding that there is no need to “choose one over the other”.

Building skills for British green jobs the manifesto also makes clear the need for the government to boost the solar energy jobs market by working with industry as, according to Solar Energy UK, the renewable energy sector will create “thousands of jobs over the next decade”.

In 2022 alone, the sector employed 1 million people, bringing the total to 13.7 million jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Turbocharging the network for net zero – according to Solar Energy UK, the country cannot connect most renewable energy assets fast enough due to “inadequate electricity networks”, which it describes as a “major impediment for solar farms, large battery projects and commercial-scale rooftop investments alike.”

It said that maintaining the slow pace of connections would put current and proposed targets out of reach – even net zero itself.

To overcome this, Solar Energy UK says that Ofgem needs to allow greater and faster investment in the grid. 

Implement a renewables-first approach to market reform – finally, to implement a renewables-first approach to market reform, Solar Energy UK wants to ensure that British solar and energy storage matches other technologies and other countries. 

The manifesto states that the government should do this by ensuring the Electricity Generator Levy, the Capacity Market, Balancing Mechanisms and the Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) attract investment. 11GW of solar capacity is approved, but the budget allocation for Allocation Round 6 of the Contracts for Difference scheme facilitates less than 2GW. 

“This manifesto highlights the urgent need for renewable energy to address the climate crisis and reduce dependence on fossil fuels,” said Solar Energy UK.

It highlights the importance of solar energy with goals that come well within recent targets. The National Infrastructure Commission recommends the delivery of 60GW of short-term energy flexibility by 2035. 

Written by:
Louise joined The Eco Experts as Editorial Assistant in April 2024. She is a talented artist who has a keen interest in solutions that lead to a more environmentally-friendly future.
Reviewed by:
Max joined The Eco Experts as content manager in February 2024. He has written about sustainability issues across numerous industries, including maritime, supply chain, finance, mining and retail. He has also written for  City AM, The Morning Star and the Daily Express.
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