Today the STA has welcomed Government plans to hold a new round of clean power auctions, set to take place in 2021, for solar and onshore wind. A new Contracts for Difference auction will enable greater deployment of the cleanest, cheapest forms of power generation today, cutting costs to consumers by £200m-£300m annually. The policy is one of the STA’s key priorities for 2020.
Chief Executive Chris Hewett said: “Today’s announcement marks a major shift in the right direction for Government policy on onshore renewables, and a welcome opportunity for the solar industry.”
“New clean power auctions for Pot 1 technologies will accelerate the decarbonisation of the power sector and drive the shift towards net zero, bringing with it new jobs, cheaper electricity and opportunities closer to home for Britain’s highly experienced solar investors.”
“The Government is backing a winner in solar, which is not only the UK’s most popular energy technology, but also highly cost-effective and one which offers unique opportunities to enhance local biodiversity and agriculture.”
The Committee on Climate Change has regularly recommended new government-led clean power auctions for solar and onshore wind to support the UK’s decarbonisation targets, as well as keeping the cost of energy down for bill-payers. It estimates that the UK’s solar power capacity will have to triple by 2030 in order to be on track for the Government’s legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The decision will boost for jobs and growth in the renewable energy sector, and help ensure clean power is available to meet rising demand brought on by the rise of electric vehicles and the electrification of heat. There is currently a pipeline of more than 7GW of solar projects in development.
Further deployment of large-scale solar offers a unique opportunity to enhance local biodiversity across the UK. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that well-designed and well-managed ground-mount solar installations can support wildlife habitats and meaningfully contribute to achieving national biodiversity targets.
Solar parks have several advantages in this respect compared to other landscapes. Being secure sites, with little disturbance from humans and machinery once construction is complete, they require little if any use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers, and typically incorporate ecological features such as drainage ponds and hedgerows, which can be designed to optimise their habitat value