The secret to subsidy-free solar

Is energy storage the key to subsidy-free solar in Britain?

Climate change minister for the UK, Claire Perry, claims that including energy storage with large scale solar is “the way that you make the subsidy-free package work”. The minister was quizzed on the 28th November by the business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) select committee.

Perry used the recent subsidy-free development of Anesco’s Clay Hill solar farm as proof that taxpayer funding is no longer necessary for the technology in the UK. The committee grilled Perry on the lack of new low carbon electricity levies on offer before 2025, not including the £557 million (€632.06 million) already set aside for contracts for difference (CfD) auctions.

“Given that I opened the country’s first subsidy free solar farm a few months ago and we’re buying offshore wind at effectively subsidy free levels, it seems to me that committing £557 million to further subsidise renewables is a pretty decent commitment,” she responded.

Perry then continued, explaining that further work was being undertaken to develop new solar facilities with on-site energy storage. Energy storage is considered to be the key to subsidy free success of the Clay Hill solar farm.

“The thing to solve with solar is the on-site storage because [at] the Clay Hill solar farm, which is subsidy free, that is the way that you make the subsidy free package work. So we’re working with the regulator to make sure all of the various impediments [are] removed because we are keen to bring forward more solar.”

Industry voices such as Anesco chairman Steve Shine and Nick Boyle, head of UK developer Lightsource have criticised the the UK government’s use of single site developments to determine wider solar industry trends and maintain that subsidies are still required for continued deployment.

Ofgem were due to release a guidance document this month (expected release date is now before Christmas 2017) aiming to clarify some of the issues around energy storage; specifically storage units being double charged and ensuring subsidy scheme accreditation can be maintained if energy storage is added to a solar development.

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