What does the Clean Growth Strategy Mean for Solar?

An article from Bright Blue featuring Seb Berry raised some interesting questions about whether the Clean Growth Strategy is supporting solar or not. Begging the question, “What does the Clean Growth Strategy Mean for Solar?”

What is the Clean Growth Strategy?

The Clean Growth strategy is a document that sets out the necessary actions to be taken to reduce emissions, lower the amount that consumers and businesses spend on energy. Putting clean growth at the centre of a modern Industrial Strategy
According to the Executive Summary of the Clean Growth Strategy[1], published on the 12th of October 2017. “Clean growth is about growing our national income while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”
The term “greenhouse gas emissions” refers to several greenhouse gases, chief of which is carbon dioxide. As a result, emissions of these gases are measured in millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The purpose of the initiative is to improve the UK economy while benefitting the environment nationally and internationally for current and future generations.

Fostering Low-Carbon Tech

If the government is to stop energy-prices getting higher, cheap, low-carbon technologies will need to be adopted.
With low cost low-carbon, economic advantage would be secured for the future, in addition to sustainability. Internationally it is also important to consider developing countries that cannot easily afford new technology. The cheaper the innovation, the more globally viable.
This is a crisis situation that affects every living thing on Earth, so we must work together to create a positive future for the planet.
Full details of the Clean Growth Strategy are available the Clean Growth Strategy Document[2].

Is solar being overlooked in the clean growth strategy?

Seb Berry is the Director of Corporate Communication at Solarcentury and Vice Chair of the Solar Trade Association. In an article for Bright Blue[3], he discussed his concerns for solar within the Clean Growth Strategy.
With respect to the UK government, he said: “Too often it’s been a case of one step forwards, two steps back.”

Solar Is Being Forgotten

In the article, he notes his deep concern for solar being forgotten in the clean growth plan. He goes on to comment on the irony that Solarcentury is greatly exporting UK solar expertise world-wide, all the while the UK itself remains in decline.
Mr Berry adds the fact that solar power could be available today at nearly half the price of that of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. If less expensive solar was included in the CfD process, it would significantly boost the UK market and help to put pressure on the reduction of costs of such technology as solar power.
Seb also mentions the destabilisation caused by Brexit, in relation to the UK solar industry. Solarcentury, however, is operating very well throughout Europe “where markets are recovering nicely”. Mr Berry does acknowledge positive points from Brexit, such as the possibility of useful policy changes. This includes the prospect of eliminating VAT for solar power.

1 Million Homes Powered by Solar

In another article, by Seb Berry and Sarah Allison of Solarcentury[4], they say that there are almost one million UK homes powered by solar. Mr Berry and Ms Allison note that the next six years (from 2016) look optimistic, “despite the best efforts of the new government to undermine our sector.” The costs of solar, the most preferred renewable technology of the UK public, will decrease further, and concern for the environment is increasing exponentially due to such affairs as the Paris climate agreement.
During these six years, however, cuts will be made to the Feed-in Tariff in April 2019, which is a potential and likely disaster that UK solar companies will have to overcome. While it is not a positive policy change, there will not be retrospective cuts, meaning that if you have solar power installed until April 2019 and a Feed-in Tariff contract is included, it will remain unaffected.

It’s Up to Us to Make The Change

The Clean Growth Strategy sounds like it should only benefit solar power in the UK. Unfortunately, it is not so clear-cut. The solar industry will have to continue to work hard to make the positive changes necessary for the environment, without placing reliance on complete government support.


[1] Clean Growth Strategy Executive Summary
[2] Clean Growth Strategy Document
[3] One Step Forward Two Steps Back – Bright Blue Interview with Seb Berry
[4] In the next six years, businesses will lead the green economy; and UK solar will go international