Subsidy free solar comes to the UK

The UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm will be officially opened today (Tuesday 26 September) by Climate Change Minister Claire Perry.

The 45 acre Clayhill solar farm and energy storage facility near Flitwick in Bedfordshire, built by energy provider Anesco, is made up of over 30,000 solar panels - enough to power 2,500 homes.

The solar farm will be the first in the UK to be built and operated without Government subsidy, following a fall in the cost of solar panels by two thirds since 2010. To date the industry has successfully installed 12GW of solar capacity across the country.

Battery technology also has an important role to play in making renewable energy a viable part of the UK’s energy network by ensuring energy can be captured and stored for use when needed. The Clayhill development features five battery storage units. These help maximise the usable output from renewable power sources such as solar, which generates different amounts of energy depending on the weather.

Claire Perry, Minister for Climate Change and Industry said:

The cost of solar panels and batteries has fallen dramatically over the past few years, and this first subsidy-free development at Clayhill is a significant moment for clean energy in the UK.

Solar panels already provide enough electricity to power 2.7 million homes with 99% of that capacity installed since 2010.

The Government is determined to build on this success and our ambitious Clean Growth Strategy will ensure we continue to lead the world on the transition to a low carbon economy.

The Government expects to see more developers install and connect subsidy-free sites later this year.

Steve Shine OBE, Anesco’s Executive Chairman said:

For the solar industry, Clayhill is a landmark development and paves the way for a sustainable future, where subsidies are no longer needed or relied upon. Importantly, it proves that the Government’s decision to withdraw subsidies doesn’t have to signal the end of solar as a commercially viable technology.

This landmark moment for the clean energy industry comes after the Government set out its plans for a smarter energy system which set out a future in which energy providers will take advantage of new technologies such as battery storage to benefit consumers.

This was followed by a record amount of renewable capacity being secured in the latest contracts for difference auction and new Government measures to accelerate investment in clean growth by building on the UK’s strength in green finance. There was also confirmation from the Prime Minister that dirty coal generation would end by 2025.

Today, National Grid announced that more than half the UK’s electricity came from low carbon sources in the last three months, making it the ‘greenest’ summer on record.