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Rooftop Solar

Volume 627: debated on Tuesday 18 July 2017

Immaculate parliamentary manners, but not immaculate parliamentary procedure—sorry about that, Mr Speaker; I thought we had moved on from that question.

Solar is a UK success story. In 2013, solar capacity was expected to reach between 10 and 12 GW by 2020; we now expect Government support to bring forward about 13 GW by then. Feed-in tariffs provide an incentive for businesses to invest in rooftop solar.

The sun might be going down on the Chancellor’s time at No.11, but it remains an important source of energy and income for 44,000 microgenerators, including schools and hospitals. But since April they have seen their business rates increase by up to 800%, in some cases. Some major deployers of the technology are now pulling out of the rooftop market. Will the Government reassess the business rate levy paid on rooftop solar, so that we can give real growth to this important environmental sector?

The Government are continuing to support the take-up of solar panels through business rates by maintaining the exemption for new installations of solar power generating less than 50 kilowatts of power; of course, we also have all the transitional relief schemes and the cut in business rates announced in the Budget last year, which cost nearly £9 billion. The Government have listened to the voice from solar. We are keen to see progress on solar, and these schemes will help that.

Will not the roll-out of solar panels be greatly helped by Brexit, when the very high tariffs imposed on cheaper Chinese photovoltaic cells are removed and we will no longer be protecting the inefficient German industry?

I thought my hon. Friend was going to say that the sun may be shining more brightly post-Brexit. We are very keen to see the progress of solar as well as all other renewables. We will have to see what happens with pricing, but the key thing is that we will be supporting solar, as it is a key part of our power mix for the future.

There was I thinking that the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) was taking an interest in energy saving because he has six children. Apparently not.

Have not the Government actually cut support for solar because, together with new storage technologies, it threatens to become so successful that it would kill off any case for horrendously expensive nuclear?

The support for solar comes directly from people’s bills. When the costs of installation and generation come down, through efficiencies and economies of scale and production, so should support. We are taking steps to control the cost of support schemes and putting solar on the path to delivery without subsidy.