Last week’s poll: where now for UK solar?

In last week’s poll we asked how government can help the UK solar energy sector, a question predicated by plans to install solar panels on social housing in England and Wales.


This led us to look more broadly at solar and its role in the nation’s energy mix (12,720MW installed capacity across 922,509 sites), plus the advances being made in materials science – particularly with perovskites – that are helping to increase the efficiency of solar power.

Despite the growth of the UK’s solar sector, many contend that it does so in spite, not because of, government support.

Government cuts to solar subsidies (in particular the drastic reduction in feed-in tariffs that made domestic PV so attractive to users, as well as cuts to the renewable obligation scheme, which incentivised the development of larger solar farms) have hindered the rapid growth the sector experienced earlier this decade.

Many in the energy sector believe that it’s time for the government to supercharge growth in solar by introducing more generous subsidies. Others claim that the sector will only become sustainable if it’s forced to stand on its own feet.

The view from those who responded to the poll is unequivocal: nearly half (48 per cent) of our 474 respondents believe there should be an increase in government investment in solar technology development.

The other pro-government investment option – increase subsidies and incentives immediately – garnered 23 per cent of votes, whilst those in favour of scrapping subsidies accounted for 24 per cent of respondents. The remaining five per cent opted for ‘none of the above’.

A broad and lively discussion followed via Comments in which readers discussed the best place to deploy solar panels and who should fund their installation.

Phil Owen wrote: ‘A transition to roof tiles with cheap, albeit not top efficiency, pv coatings would allow all new build and reroofing to be 100% pv solar at very low incremental cost.’ Chris added: ‘Any new electricity generating system in the UK requires tax-payers’ money (i.e. government investment) be it gas fired generation, nuclear or wind. Why should solar be any different?’

What do you think? Keep the conversation going in the Comments below.