Solar is key to the Government’s strategy for low-cost decarbonisation of the energy sector, and we will need sustained growth in capacity over the next decade as we move to net zero. It already accounts for 28% of installed renewable capacity in the UK. Large-scale solar photovoltaic projects are eligible to compete in the next contracts for difference allocation round in December this year. The Government also support rooftop solar through the smart export guarantee and energy efficiency schemes.
Community energy is vitally important in delivering renewable energy and engaging communities in contributing to net zero, but the sector has suffered since the Government cancelled the urban community energy fund in 2016 and excluded it from the social investment tax relief in 2017. This evening I am meeting Sustainable Energy 24 in my constituency, which is working hard to deliver new solar installations and engage our local communities, despite the Government’s lack of support. Will the Minister commit to meaningful support for community energy?
We are absolutely supportive of community energy. The £10 million rural community energy fund provides grant funding to help communities with the up-front costs of project development. We have also funded dedicated officers at five local energy hubs to provide one-to-one support. We intend to set out our future plans for community energy in the forthcoming net zero strategy.