UK local authorities cite lack of Government support as main barrier to solar

Photo: Simmo Simpson/Defence Images

In spite of rapidly falling prices for solar power, deployment in the UK has slowed down in recent years. Reductions to incentives from the Government to encourage renewable energy deployment are often cited as the main reason for this; the newly revealed data would appear to back this up.

332 councils out of the 435 contacted responded to LG’s freedom of information request. The key findings don’t paint the prettiest of pictures for UK solar in the coming years, with 71% having no strategy for solar power, and 70% having no plans to invest in it over at least the next five years.

47% of the authorities that responded cited reduced government incentives as the main barrier to investment in solar. Lack of up front capital was the second most cited reason, mentioned by 23% of authorities.

“To find out that lack of government support is the main barrier to further investment is deeply saddening,” said Bob Mills, UK Senior Sales Manager at LG Electronic. “Until there is clarity on solar strategy, we will continue to see public money wasted on out-dated and overpriced energy projects.”

Local Authorities in the UK have conducted several projects that prove solar can be successful, including a 1.73 MW installation on the rooftop of the Western International Market in Hounslow. “All energy installations must have as close to a seven-year payback period as possible. Solar can meet this and more,” says Charles Pipe, Energy Manager at the London Borough of Hounslow. “It can and does work, councils simply need to understand that solar investment is no longer a risk.”

The Renewable Energy Association’s Energy Storage Conference, which took place in London last week, revealed similar issues for this industry, where potential for storage is being held back by a lack of suitable policies to support it.

The UK is not alone in this though, as one of several countries recently singled out for failing to EU mandated targets for renewable energy.