Solar power reaches record high, but cuts to subsidies are slowing demand


Solar power has hit new record highs in the UK, providing almost a quarter of the country's electricity at one point last month, analysis shows.

The solar industry estimates the country now has almost 12 gigawatts (GW) of solar panels - enough to power the equivalent of 3.8 million homes - in solar farms and on buildings such as homes, offices, warehouses and schools.

New analysis by MyGridGB for the Solar Trade Association (STA) shows that solar power hit a new peak on June 5 - in the early afternoon, to be precise - when it met just under 24% of demand.

There are whole farms dedicated to gathering solar energy.

The UK has a million "solar homes", STA said, with an estimated 800,000 using solar panels to produce electricity from the sun, and 200,000 using solar thermal units to provide hot water.

But installation rates have slowed as the sector has been hit by major cuts to subsidies for solar panels.

So the industry is marking its third annual "solar independence day" by pushing to raise maintenance standards for the technology and highlighting how it can protect home owners and businesses from volatile energy prices by reducing bills.

Cuts to subsidies has meant a drop in solar panel installation.

Paul Barwell, STA chief executive, said: "This is what the country and the world needs to decarbonise the energy sector at the lowest price to the consumer" - adding that the Government's decision to adopt the target of cutting carbon emissions by 57% by 2030 sent a good long term signal on clean energy.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokeswoman said: "The solar industry still receives subsidies. However, the cost of solar has steadily declined over the last 10 years, so it is only right that as these costs come down so should the subsidies paid for through energy bills."