PRESS RELEASE: UK solar comes of age as Feed-in-Tariff scheme ends

Solar Trade Association
Immediate Release
31 March 2019

Today officially marks the final day of the Feed-in-Tariff, with the scheme closing to new installations as of midnight tonight. The period in which this hugely successful scheme was active saw solar PV bring clean power to over 900,000 homes across the country, as well as to thousands of businesses and community groups. 93% of solar users have said they are satisfied with its performance [1], and robust quality assurance standards mean that, according to the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, fewer than 1% of all installations have been met with complaint. Thanks to the scheme, solar is now a common-place sight in neighbourhoods all over the UK and year on year has retained its crown as the nation’s favourite energy generation technology. [2]

STA Chief Executive Chris Hewett said: “Solar technology is now well established in people’s hearts and minds while related technologies like battery storage and electric vehicles are generating fresh excitement. The FIT may be ending today, but the need for clean energy is bigger than ever and the economics of solar still stack up nicely for commercial and industrial rooftops, and even for households that are home for much of the day.”

The cost of solar has tumbled since the FiT scheme was launched in 2010, with a standard good-quality domestic 4kW system costing around £5000 today. Scottish households are eligible for interest-free loans to cover the cost of the installation as part of the Home Energy Scotland loan scheme. [3] Several collective purchase schemes run by Local Authorities can cut costs even further and these are set to continue in 2019. [4] The technology remains financially beneficial for those who are mostly at home during the day such as retired people, families with young children and those who work from home because the greatest savings are achieved by using your own solar power rather than drawing electricity from the grid.

Solar is the gateway to a smart, green home and in recent years the industry has evolved to offer battery storage, electric vehicle charging and smart home management systems that can make use of cheaper night time electricity tariffs. Solar products themselves are now more efficient and aesthetically very attractive.

Chris Hewett said: “In an uncertain world, solar allows you to anchor your electricity prices, inflation free, for the future. And while Westminster seems forever distracted, solar enables households, businesses and communities everywhere to focus on taking decisive action on climate change.

Polling shows 3/5 people want to invest in solar power and battery storage. [5] The average 4kW installation will save 21 tonnes of CO2 over its 25 year warrantied life time – equal to planting 400 trees! It will also generate enough power for over 400,000 miles of electric vehicle journeys.

However, the technology’s transition away from public support has been marred by the Government’s slow progress on its Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). The STA and MPs from all parties have advocated strongly for households and small businesses to receive a fair market payment for the surplus power they put on the grid, in line with EU law. The Government has recognised that it would not be acceptable for people to give their power away on the grid for free and has said that households going solar from tomorrow will be eligible for the SEG when it is appears. [6] However, the industry is still awaiting detail from the Government how and when ​it proposes to do this under the SEG. The STA and Microgeneration Certification Scheme are urging consumers to stick with established quality assurance schemes and to be vigilant about unethical people exploiting the current policy uncertainty.

Chris Hewett said; “It should not be in dispute that everyday households must receive a fair payment for the power they put on the grid and we urge Government to end the needless uncertainty for our industry and investors alike, by confirming it will mandate a minimum floor price tied to real market values. Fair treatment is now all that is needed for solar to thrive across the UK and it is Government’s responsibility to make sure that happens – and fast.”

The STA will be watching the market closely for SEG offers from suppliers, which it will be posting on its new revamped web section for potential solar and battery storage customers. Solar thermal continues to be supported under the Renewable Heat Incentive and details are similarly available on the STA website. [7]

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

[1] Which? – ‘Results of our biggest ever solar panels survey’: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/06/results-of-our-biggest-ever-solar-panels-survey/

[2] BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker September 2018 (Wave 27): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/754515/W27_Summary_Report.pdf

[3] Home Energy Scotland loan scheme: https://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland/grants-loans/home-energy-scotland-loan

[4] Solar group-buying schemes: https://www.ichoosr.co.uk/group-buying-solar-panels/

[5] ClientEarth’s Climate Snapshot August 2018: https://www.documents.clientearth.org/wp-content/uploads/library/2018-08-20-clientearths-climate-snapshot-coll-en.pdf

[6] ‘MPs back solar industry call for fair market payment’: https://www.solar-trade.org.uk/press-release-mps-back-solar-industry-call-for-fair-market-payment/

[7] STA’s solar for households platform: https://www.solar-trade.org.uk/resource-centre/advice-tips-for-households/

 

 

For further information or to request an interview, please contact:

Name: Jack Dobson-Smith

Title: Public Affairs & Communications Officer

Main line: 0203 637 2946

 

Background on the Solar Trade Association:

The mission of the Solar Trade Association is to empower the UK solar transformation. We are paving the way for solar to deliver the maximum possible share of UK energy by 2030 by enabling a bigger and better solar industry. We represent solar heat and power plus battery storage, and have a proven track record of winning breakthroughs for solar PV and solar thermal.