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Competitive Solar Energy? Not Any Time Soon

Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph

Solar Trade Association says large solar farm will need subsidies until 2025-2028, despite claiming last month that all solar panel projects could be subsidy-free by 2020

Subsidies for solar panels will be scrapped to help reduce household electricity bills, energy minister in charge of climate change has declared

Ministers announced this year they would end the current subsidy scheme for large-scale solar farms in April 2015, two years earlier than planned, after far more projects were built than expected and amid fears they were blighting the landscape. Photo: ALAMY 

Solar farms will still be reliant on subsidies for up to another 14 years, the trade body for the industry has admitted – despite previously claiming the technology could be subsidy-free by 2020.

Most solar panels installed in the UK to date have been heavily subsidised and new solar farm projects are currently paid more than twice the market price of power for every unit of electricity they generate.

The subsidies, running to tens of millions of pounds each year, are paid for through levies on consumer energy bills.

The cost of the technology has fallen rapidly in recent years thanks to advances as the industry grows, with the level of subsidy cut as a result.

The Solar Trade Association has said these cost-reductions could result in subsidies no longer being required at all by 2020.

In a press release issued just last month, it said it was developing plans “showing how to provide stable policy to deliver subsidy-free solar power at all scales and applications by 2020”.

Amber Rudd, the energy minister, endorsed the claim, saying: “We hope it will be subsidy-free by 2020 and on the current rate of deployment that seems achievable.”

But on Wednesday the STA issued fresh analysis on solar farm costs and admitted: “We see solar farms as ‘subsidy free’ between 2025 and 2028.”

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