Solar Energy UK
More than 2.2 gigawatts of solar generation capacity have secured support from the government.
Winners of the fourth allocation round of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) were announced today. [1,2]
Many leading Solar Energy UK members secured contracts, among them JBM, Bluefield, Low Carbon, Voltalia and Lightsource BP.
Coming to 66 in all, more solar projects received contracts than all other eligible forms of power generation combined. Only 27 wind, tidal and energy-from-waste projects did so.
It was the first allocation round since the first in 2015 to include the solar sector.
Among the winners is the 350-megawatt Cleve Hill solar farm – the first to be approved as a nationally significant infrastructure project. A third of its capacity will be covered by a CfD.
Cleve Hill is also the only project with a capacity exceeding 50 megawatts. The two smallest are 6MW.
Five solar projects are expected to be delivered in 2023/24 – earlier than any other winners.
“Today’s announcement of over 2GW of subsidy-free contracts cements solar as a major part of the solution to Britain’s energy security crisis. Solar and wind are now undeniably the cheapest, as well as the cleanest, way to power the country,” said Chris Hewett, Chief Executive at Solar Energy UK.
“CfDs are only one way to deliver solar. There are many solar farms already under construction that will sell their power direct to the market, and rooftop installations are cutting corporate and household energy bills,” he added.
A strike price of £46 per megawatt-hour was agreed for solar. The price means that it is likely that the projects will return more money to the Treasury than they receive. The advantage of the CfD system is that it provides a guaranteed income to operators. De-risking renewables projects makes them an attractive investment while ensuring affordable electricity at market rates for taxpayers.
Most of the winning solar farms are due to be built in England, with three in Wales coming to a combined 76.4MW.
Scotland also has three in the pipeline, including the 49.9MW Milltown Airfield project. All told, the 79MW Scottish CfD pipeline is a clear demonstration of the industry’s viability and vitality – and proof that it produces affordable power.
Solar energy currently supplies about 4% of the UK’s total annual electricity consumption, with 20% or more being common around midday in summer. Current record production is estimated at 9.68 gigawatts – or about two and a half times the maximum output of the UK’s largest power station, Drax. Total installed capacity comes to around 14GW.
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