UK energy minister says country is ‘now off coal’ – despite still operating four major coal-fired plants. An all-party U.K. parliamentary group for renewable and sustainable energy event in London has again confirmed the view the government remains unmoved by calls for support for the solar sector. However, a window of opportunity may be about to open for rooftop PV thanks to proposed legislation for new homes building standards. The invitation to the winter reception held in London this week by the U.K. government’s all-party parliamentary group for renewable and sustainable energy (Praseg) stated energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng would give “a keynote address reflecting on U.K. leadership on renewable and sustainable energy and outlining his aspirations for the sector in the future”. Despite that promise, little of substance was offered at the House of Commons event on Tuesday other than a vague low-carbon aspirations. Kwarteng began his speech by reflecting on the country retiring its coal-fired power fleet, stating: “In 1913, the U.K. mined 287 million tons of coal and, in 100 years, we are now off coal – a remarkable achievement.” pv magazine understands the U.K. still operates four major coal-fired power stations, one of which – Fiddler’s Ferry in Cheshire, northwest England – is due to go offline in March. Coal-fired power supplied 5.1% of U.K. electricity in 2018 and that figure is expected to have fallen a further 2% last year after the Cottam plant in Nottinghamshire, in the English east midlands, closed in the autumn and the Aberthaw B power station, near Barry in South Wales, was shuttered in December. The government has committed to ending all “unabated” coal-fired generation by 2025 and this month said it would consult on bringing that deadline forward to October 1, 2024. Lia Nici, Conservative MP for Great Grimsby in the English North East, spoke about new buildings installing renewable energy technologies so “we don’t have to retrofit in 10 years’ time”. The U.K. Solar Trade Association (STA) welcomed the part L proposals which consider two alternative legislative options to improve energy efficiency in building standards. Given the Conservative government’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for solar, however, any Future Homes Standards decision to use solar panels to help make new homes more energy efficient appears the more likely source of relief for the beleaguered sector.
PV Magazine 13th Feb 2020 read more »