Government mulls more frequent CfD auctions in Net Zero Strategy otherwise devoid of PV policy

Utility Solar Summit: the flexibility of the post-subsidy market

The government is to review the frequency of CfD auctions. Image: Getty

While the government’s Net Zero Strategy includes plans to review the frequency of Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions, a concrete UK solar deployment target was absent.

Both have been key asks of the industry as of late, with Solar Energy UK being a particular proponent of a 40GW of UK solar by 2030 goal, while the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) has campaigned for more frequent, six monthly CfD auctions. 

The strategy detailed how in order to help meet the government’s recently-announced goal of a net zero electricity system by 2035, it is to accelerate deployment of low-cost renewable generation, such as wind and solar, through the CfD scheme by undertaking a review of the frequency of the CfD auctions.

Additionally, the government will seek to ensure a facilitative environment for the deployment of unsubsidised rooftop solar to complement its market-based approach of ensuring exporters receive a fair price through the Smart Export Guarantee.

While the importance of solar in the future energy mix was highlighted in the strategy, there were no further policy announcements for the technology.

Responding to this, Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK, said: “Solar energy is now one of the lowest hanging fruits of the energy transition, but the UK government’s Net Zero Strategy seems determined to emphasise far more exotic and, in some cases, unproven options. Thankfully, investors, the energy sector and their consumers will be making more rational decisions, and these investments will dwarf anything the Treasury offers up in the Budget.” 

Indeed, Solar Energy UK pointed to how there are “little to no new commitments to accelerate the deployment of this essential technology in line with the Sixth Carbon Budget and the Climate Change Committee’s assessment of what is needed to deliver net zero by 2050”. 

The trade body also referenced its own analysis, which shows that while solar sector is on track to double over the coming decade, solar deployment must treble by 2030 if the UK is to stay on track to deliver its net zero targets- a feat which will require significant additional policy support from the government.

For energy storage, long-duration energy storage was given a mention in the strategy, with the government to explore the system need and case for further market intervention for long-duration storage and hydrogen in power. In July, it issued a call for evidence​ on how to enable long-duration energy storage, while it is aiming to achieve 5GW of UK low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. ​​

More detail on the Net Zero Strategy can be found on sister site Current±.

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