The Solar Trade Association (STA) has called for tax cuts for businesses generating their own solar power in a list of policy demands submitted to the Treasury ahead of today’s (29 October) budget.

The industry body said this year’s wish list is very similar to last year’s given “no progress has been made to remove barriers to solar power, most of which fall under the Treasury’s remit.”

“Since then, deployment in solar PV has fallen to an eight-year low, with just 200MW of deployment expected for 2018 – a fall of 95 per cent compared to 2015,” the association warned.

“The largest companies are now struggling to maintain an installer base. The need for a fair and level playing field for solar is urgent.”

First and foremost, the STA said rooftop solar panels should be classified as “excepted plant and machinery” when determining the business rates paid to local authorities.

In April 2017, the Valuation Office Agency reclassified rooftop solar panels as “plant and machinery” for the purpose of valuing businesses’ assets.

This change has resulted in a six to eight-fold increase in the tax rate paid by businesses on solar panels used to generate power for their own consumption. There is a lower rate for solar panels mainly used to export power to the grid or to third parties.

The STA also petitioned the government to:

  • Set the Climate Change Levy (CCL) at a level that “is effective in accelerating rapid decarbonisation”.
  • Clarify that solar installations with a power purchase agreement are exempt from the CCL.
  • Add solar panels and energy storage to the eligibility list for the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme.
  • Extend a reduced VAT rate of 5 per cent to all domestic battery storage installations connected to solar panels. The lower rate is currently only available if they are installed at the same time as solar panels.
  • Maintain the export tariff for domestic solar panels. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has proposed to remove the tariff for surplus generation exported to the power grid as part of the closure of the feed-in tariff scheme to new applicants in March 2019.
  • Allow more established technologies, including solar, to compete in future contracts for difference auctions.