Claire Perry has claimed that there are 2.3GW of potentially subsidy-free solar projects in the planning pipeline.
During the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department question time last week, the energy and climate change minister was challenged on the government’s shake up of the subsidy regime for solar power resulting from the withdrawal of the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme at the end of next month.
Pointing to industry surveys showing that 30 per cent to 40 per cent of solar firms installing domestic systems are now “contemplating closure”, backbench Labour MP Helen Hayes said the department has made a “mess” of policies for smaller-scale renewables.
Adding that Ofgem’s targeted charging review now threatens the viability of the “few” solar farms that have been built without subsidy, Hayes called on Perry to meet the industry to discuss its concerns.
The minister defended the government’s track record on solar power, claiming that 99 per cent of total solar capacity had been installed under Conservative-led governments.
She said: “The numbers suggest that there are 2.3GW of solar projects in the pipeline that already have or are awaiting planning permission and that could be delivered without subsidy.
“We are moving rapidly to a subsidy-free world for solar generation. It is important that we do not equate subsidy with output, with actually delivering the power we want.”
But Nicholas Gall, policy analyst at the Solar Trade Association (STA), questioned the deliverability of the projects cited by Perry.
He said:“It’s not at all clear how much of this (2.3GW) capacity will actually be built or when.
“Based on analysis we’ve seen of what could feasibly move forward from the planning permission stage and what we hear from our members, we estimate that the total pipeline for this current year including both rooftop and groundmount PV is probably 350-600MW, compared to slightly over 200MW installed in 2018.“
Later during the session, Perry welcomed moves by Tidal Lagoon Power to bring forward subsidy-free proposals for its Swansea Bay project.
She said: “It is very pleasing to see that that project has now been brought forward in a form that does not require any government subsidy. That is clearly a vote of confidence in this sector and this technology going forward.”