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The High Cost of Moving Industry Offshore

The High Cost of Moving Industry Offshore

Offshore industrialization is facing mounting…

Felicity Bradstock

Felicity Bradstock

Felicity Bradstock is a freelance writer specialising in Energy and Finance. She has a Master’s in International Development from the University of Birmingham, UK.

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Is The UK Giving Up On Solar Power?

  • Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's policy changes, including delays in transitioning to electric vehicles and restrictions on solar energy, have raised concerns about the UK's commitment to climate action.
  • Environmental groups argue that the government's rollbacks could lead to higher long-term costs and threaten the UK's global leadership in combating climate change.
  • While foreign energy imports may offer a green energy source, the hurdles placed on domestic renewable energy development could impact energy costs and hinder the UK's climate commitments.
Solar Power

The Conservative government in the U.K. has been accused of backtracking on several of its climate pledges over the last few months and the solar energy industry is the latest to be affected. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is following in his predecessor’s footsteps by imposing restrictions on new solar energy developments in the U.K., which could lead the country to rely on foreign energy imports to meet its growing demand for renewable energy and ensure its energy security. 

In September, Sunak confirmed the massive rollback of several of the U.K.’s climate policies during a speech. This came after a government plan on updated climate action was leaked.

The Conservative government passed a law in 2019 aimed at achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Sunak assures the public that this goal has not changed, but the path to achieving it has. He stated that the government will “ease the transition to electric vehicles,” shifting the date for a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035. He also said that there would be “more time to transition to heat pumps,” meaning a delay in the phasing out of gas boilers. He also ruled out the introduction of a tax aimed at discouraging flying and announced that plans for new recycling schemes would be reconsidered. 

Climate scientists and environmental experts said in response to Sunak’s speech that the move would cost consumers more in the long term and it could threaten the U.K.’s global leadership on climate change. Environmental groups are likely to challenge the decision to water down climate pledges in court on the grounds that the government has a legal obligation to present in detail how it aims to achieve its 2050 net-zero target, with clear carbon budgets for different sectors. In response to the criticism, Sunak said that delays in enacting green pledges could help save U.K. households thousands of pounds. However, this appears to be overlooking the potential effects of climate change due to the delay. 

The latest clean energy source under attack by the Conservative government is solar power. This month, Sunak announced plans to restrict the installation of solar panels on U.K. farmland. Plans to block solar energy projects were originally proposed under Liz Truss’s leadership, and media sources suggest that Sunak and the environment secretary Thérèse Coffey have revived plans for the restriction on the rollout of solar panels. 

Greg Smith, the MP for Buckingham, who has long been opposed to installing solar panels on farmland, drafted the amendment to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). He stated, “This is a clear, straightforward protection that planning authorities up and down the land can use to say this development on this farmland isn’t going to hit our food security in this area, or this one over here is and therefore use that as a good reason to turn down applications.” Coffey said that the revised NPPF will come into action later this year. Environmental experts believe that increasing the U.K.’s solar capacity will help reduce the effects of climate change, which would otherwise be hugely detrimental to U.K. farming. Meanwhile, many farmers believe that food and energy security can go hand in hand through the correct use of farmland. 

Alethea Warrington, senior campaigner at climate charity Possible, explained: “The idea that solar power could interfere with the UK’s food security is utterly detached from reality. Solar power generated over 8 percent of all our electricity this spring, but takes up less land than golf courses. This is part of an abysmal streak of energy policy from the government, including failing to properly unblock onshore wind, failing to get any new offshore wind, and trying to press ahead with incredibly dangerous new oil drilling.”

Although the U.K. is one of the world leaders in wind production, it is falling behind in its plans to develop its solar energy capacity. In September, an article published in the Daily Telegraph stated that there were plans for the U.K. to import electricity from solar farms and wind turbines in Egypt. This will require the installation of subsea cables connecting Egypt to Europe. Rystad, the company in charge of the project, stated “European demand for low-carbon electricity is expected to grow substantially over the next three years. Building infrastructure in Europe may never be sufficient so we need to look at other sources.” 

While foreign energy sources could provide the green energy the U.K. needs to support a green transition, it is difficult to overlook the hurdles that Sunak is putting in place to develop home-grown clean energy sources. The solar energy industry is just the latest renewable energy sector to be hit with restrictions by the conservative government, a move which is expected to drive a longer-term reliance on fossil fuels, increase energy costs and lead to the U.K. failing on its climate pledges. 

By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com 


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  • Mamdouh Salameh on October 22 2023 said:
    The UK isn’t giving up on solar power. It is merely following a growing trend of realization that renewables aren’t a panacea for all the world’s energy needs. Claims about renewables and climate change goals are neither realistic nor achievable.

    For instance, the notions of global energy transition and net-zero emissions are myths. They will never be achieved by 2050, or 2100 or ever. Moreover, renewables on their own are incapable of satisfying global electricity demand without major contributions from natural gas, coal and nuclear energy.

    That is why the UK government decided, for instance, to delay the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035 and impose restrictions on the installation of solar panels on UK farmland.

    The UK will be followed suit soon by many doubters. Energy security, rising costs of renewable energy and the needs of the economy for affordable energy will dictate the course of action countries around the world will take.

    It is illogical, for instance, to ask African countries who are suffering from a chronic energy poverty to keep their vast oil and gas reserves underground and focus on reducing their emissions and that is for a continent who only contributed 3.9% to global emissions in 2022.

    The only rational and pragmatic energy strategy to be followed is for renewables and fossil fuels to coexist and work together to satisfy global energy needs. As the share of renewables in global electricity generation rises, less natural gas and coal will be needed.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
  • Kay Uwe Boehm on October 23 2023 said:
    Previously checked, methane above equatorially was probably rising from desertification at the Aral Sea below, etc. but mainly from an increase in natural gas utilization with slippage.
    Natural gas deposits can accidentally fizzle out until they close again in the event of fracking and can be switched off immediately.
    Flaring has been done for a long time to reduce oil.
    The more methane, the more degradation like with CO2.

    CO2 increase approx. +2ppm per year no danger more positive than negative as a fertilizer and warmer better than colder with more heating costs, agricultural damage, black ice etc. plus more evaporation in seas so more precipitation over land limited by fossil production maximum and what do reductions contribute 550 Gt natural turnover/year and worldwide increase in the use of fossil fuels. In terms of geological history, CO2 decreased in the time of the dinosaurs at around 2800 ppm.

    When floating ice in the Arctic melts in summer, sea levels do not rise and infrared night radiation and photodynthesis increase.

    Temperature of the world's oceans with deep seas increased by
  • Al Anistemi on October 25 2023 said:
    Given that the UK is now open to at least reconsider its position on oil exploration, has there been any progress made on exploiting the Horse Hill reserve near Gatwick?

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