UK: Spring Statement silent on solar

Today’s Spring Statement, delivered by U.K. Chancellor Phillip Hammond has led the U.K.’s Renewable Energy Association (REA) to call for further action in extending tax breaks and investments offered elsewhere to support the deployment of more renewable energy and storage solutions.

Alongside economic forecasts and announcements regarding the broader U.K. economy, the Chancellor announced a call for evidence into how the tax system can encourage reduction in single use plastics and support the use of reusable materials.

Hammond also announced plans for a consultation on updates to vehicle excise duty, looking to support the least polluting commercial vehicles.

“We welcome commitments by the chancellor to use the tax system to spur green innovation in the field of recycling, and call on him to go further and kick start the renewables economy by introducing enhanced capital allowances for technologies of the future such as solar and energy storage,” said James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at REA.

“The tax system should be used to encourage more sustainable behaviours and establish a true circular economy, one that includes waste reduction, recycling, and energy recovery.”

Court also commented on the Chancellor’s silence over electric vehicle deployment, when talking about providing support to lower emission vehicles. “The consultation on Vehicle Excise Duty for the cleanest vans should be extended to see how the tax system can better incentivise electric car adoption, which in turn improves the case for domestic EV manufacturing. Specifically, Benefit in Kind rates for electric cars should be revised.”

Finally, the REA called on the Government’s housing policy to support further deployment of renewable generation. “We call on the Chancellor to ensure that the homes being supported by the Housing Infrastructure Fund have high efficiency ratings, are using renewable energy to power and heat their homes, and have sufficient electrical supplies to support the coming mass roll-out of electric vehicles.”

The U.K. has taken steps to support electric vehicles, with the National Grid planning the deployment of super fast charging stations on the nation’s motorway system.

The country’s cumulative PV capacity hit 12.8 GW as of the end of January 2018, though installations slowed dramatically thanks to reduced policy support, and REA has been one of several industry voices criticizing the government’s perceived blocking of new renewable energy projects.