Energy secretary Amber Rudd promises to “unleash a new solar revolution.”
It looks like millions more could benefit from falling energy bills and generous subsidies, which is great news for homeowners and PV solar panel installers in Essex and across the UK.
“We have a million people under roofs with solar panels and that number needs to increase,” said Amber Rudd to her local newspaper, the Hastings and St Leonard Observer. She went on to explain that her “new role is quite simple: to keep the lights on and carbon emissions down, whilst saving consumers money on their energy bill.”
What do her comments mean for the future of solar panels in the UK?
The announcement is good news for homeowners that are thinking of having solar panels installed. The Conservatives did not mention solar panels in their 2015 manifesto, which lead to some anxiety amongst environmentalists. But commentators are taking this announcement from Rudd as a signal that subsidies for solar panels will continue.
Is the government committed to renewable energy technology?
The new government has a mixed attitude towards renewable energy.
London Mayor Boris Johnson announced that the new government would “certainly” be the “greenest ever,” yet at the same time the Conservative manifesto contains a pledge to “halt” the development of onshore wind farms.
Likewise, Rudd’s announcement suggests that the government will continue to support rooftop solar panels, but makes no mention of large scale solar farms, which were often attacked by the Coalition.
Most ambitiously of all, David Cameron and the other G7 leaders agreed that the use of fossil fuel should be phased out by the end of the century – but stopped short of signing a legally binding pledge.
Energy minister Lord Bourne indicated the government’s position on renewables by stating that “we need more clean and home-grown sources of energy, which will help to reduce our reliance on foreign fossil fuels.” As solar thermal installers in Essex, we couldn’t agree more.
Is now the best time to buy solar panels?
Based on the available evidence, it looks like now is a very good time to buy solar panels.
Solar panel prices have fallen massively. In 2010, putting a small solar panel system on your roof would have cost £15,000. But today even the largest solar panel system would cost much less, most likely somewhere in the region of £6,000.
The government’s payments to homeowners that install solar panels have dropped in line with the cost of installation. Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, explained to This is Money that “as the cost of solar has gradually come down so has the feed in tariff, which means that the return on investment for householders is just as good now as it was in 2010.”
Indeed, the Daily Telegraph recently found that now is the best time to buy solar panels since 2010. This is Money, financial website of the year, found that installing solar panels results in an average 10% tax-free return on investment. In certain properties in Essex and the sunny South-East, the return could be even higher.