Today the UK Government published the British Energy Security Strategy 2022.
“The strategy sets out how Great Britain will accelerate homegrown power for greater energy independence.”
The plan is a response to rising energy prices and a desire to wean our country off international supplies in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Whilst this desire to be more self-sufficient in energy is admirable and to be welcomed, it is curious that, despite a few decades now of increasing renewable energy and the promises of it bringing ‘cheap electricity’ that prices have continued to soar.
Yes. Solar PV is the cheapest renewable energy. For the developer to install.
Solar features last in the list on the topic of renewables.
There is a clear emphasis on rooftop solar, which has been missing from a mention in strategy for a while now. This is to be welcomed and something many communities, not just those facing solar farm developments, have been calling for.
“For rooftop solar, we will bring down bills and increase jobs by radically simplifying planning processes with a consultation on relevant permitted development rights and will consider the best way to make use of public sector rooftops.
We have already removed VAT on solar panels installed in residential accommodation in Great Britain. We are looking at facilitating low-cost finance from retail lenders to drive rooftop deployment and energy efficiency measures. And we will design performance standards to make installation of renewables, including solar PV, the presumption in new homes and buildings.”
In terms of ground-mounted solar though, the strategy is mixed and lacking important detail.
“For ground-mounted solar, we will consult on amending planning rules to strengthen policy in favour of development on non-protected land, while ensuring communities continue to have a say and environmental protections remain in place.“
We will continue supporting the effective use of land by encouraging large scale projects to locate on previously developed, or lower value land, where possible, and ensure projects are designed to avoid, mitigate, and where necessary, compensate for the impacts of using greenfield sites.”
Whilst this is at face value to be welcomed, it lacks specification on what constitutes as ‘non-protected’ land. And…
“We will also support solar that is co-located with other functions (for example, agriculture, onshore wind generation, or storage) to maximise the efficiency of land use.”
Again further detail is needed on this, particularly the co-location with agriculture. Many developers claim that sheep can graze extensively under the solar panels. Whilst this is true, sheep are rarely seen when the solar arrays are built. And is extensive sheep grazing under solar PV a better option than putting the solar panels on rooftops before we even consider using farmland?
Whilst some of the strategy is to be welcomed, we believe more detail is needed.