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Decrease in subsidies for solar fails to halt investment

In an effort to curb spiraling renewable subsidy costs the government has moved to scrap new subsidies for solar projects and onshore wind over the past few years.

In November the Treasury stated that there would be no new subsidies for clean power projects until 2025, while the current £557m of renewable energy subsidies would still be available for tender.

Renewable subsidies fell to a record low in 2017; the subsidy offered for an offshore wind farm was less than that promised to French utility company EDF to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.

This is despite the fact that Britain has a target to meet 15 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, up from 8% in 2015.

Nevertheless, the construction and planning of new solar farms has not stalled.

Falling costs have seen solar power capacity soar in Britain to around 12 gigawatts (GW), from around 2 GW five years ago, and on one sunny day in May 2017 solar hit a record, providing almost 25% of the country’s electricity.

Britain’s first subsidy-free solar power development in Bedfordshire was a pioneering moment for clean energy in the UK. The 10 megawatt (MW) solar farm in Clayhill can generate enough electricity to power around 2,500 homes and also has a 6 MW battery storage facility on site.

A large polar power station planned in Kent will be the country’s biggest, with five times the capacity of the current largest in Wiltshire which produces 69MW. The new farm will provide enough power for 110,000 homes from 2020. This new farm is optimising technological developments, and using economies of scale to make the project work without subsidies.

The costs of small scale solar has been steadily decreasing, from an average of £2080 per kW installed in 2014 to 1866 in 2017*. Larger plants of up to 50kW can be as little as 1210 £ per kW.

For companies hoping to gain subsidy funds, there remain a large number of national and local government and commercial grants, funds and subsidies available, as well as special renewable energy loans.

Talk to Chameleon Energy about options for funding, as well as making use of the 20-year Feed-in and Export Tariff scheme.

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