Leave voters want the UK to match EU protection for solar households and businesses

A new poll by YouGov for 10:10 Climate Action during the ’ has found that a majority of the public want to see the UK match incoming European protections for households and businesses that produce solar power.

71% of the public want to see the UK match the new European rights which will guarantee that households and business with solar panels installed are paid for clean power they export to the grid for use by others. The results remain high for Leave voters, with 69% support for aligning future UK and European protections for so-called ‘prosumers’ - with only one in ten in opposition. The poll comes as the government seeks to establish its green credentials during its first Green Great Britain Week.

The government recently announced its intention to axe the ‘export tariff’ - the UK mechanism by which rooftop solar panel owners are paid for surplus energy they export to the grid - for new solar installations after March 2019. This would mean power being given for free to energy companies whose customers would use the surplus energy without the companies having to buy it. The change would arrive at the same time as the removal of feed-in tariff subsidies for solar installations, which were heavily reduced in 2015.

The polling also found that just 2% of people oppose the building of solar power, and found strong support for the government providing subsidies to widen access to rooftop solar installations for schools (83%), community groups and housing associations (75%) and low income households (71%).

The government’s own figures, branded optimistic by the Solar Trade Association (STA), suggest removal of both the export tariff and feed-in tariff will result in a 50% reduction in rooftop solar installation rates that are already 85% down on 2015. 10:10 Climate Action and the STA are part of the Fair4Solar Coalition calling for fair treatment of rooftop solar with a fair export tariff guaranteed after March 2019.

Neil Jones, campaigner at 10:10 Climate Action, said:

‘Anyone can see scrapping the export tariff for what it is - quite literally daylight robbery. Just as Europe looks to protect its rooftop solar producers, our ministers are expecting households and businesses to give clean energy away for free to corporate energy companies.

No wonder that both Leave and Remain voters are largely united in backing rights for Brits that match protections in Europe. Government must urgently announce an export tariff for small scale solar after March 2019 - or it will send a very clear message that benefits from solar and taking urgent action on climate change are off-limits to ordinary people.’

Alan Whitehead, Labour’s shadow minister for energy and climate change, said:

‘Removing the export tariff while keeping everything else the same means households and schools giving away their energy to energy supply companies to profit from. This is simply unfair, and would hold back the rollout of solar energy.

If people didn’t believe that this government was bent on killing the solar industry, this latest unjust measure should confirm it. We welcome 10:10’s work in highlighting the strong popularity of solar energy and call on the government to stop attacking this important sector.’

ENDS

Data from the YouGov poll is available for download:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sdxtRXYA6RSJwxg5fNwDqBUZnz8LA3w7eufAVCKSdz0/edit?usp=sharing


For further information and requests for interviews: Daniel Jones, press and communications officer, daniel.jones@1010uk.org  0207 388 6688.

Notes to editors:

  • 10:10 is a UK based charity that brings people together to take positive, practical action on climate change. We engage citizens and communities in finding solutions that benefit the climate and their own lives too. www.1010uk.org

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,612 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 16th October 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighed and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

  • The Fair4Solar coalition includes Solar Trade Association, Community Energy England and the National Farmers Union and has gathered 300 signatures from industry, consumer groups, NGOs and academia for a letter calling on the government to retain an export tariff after March 2019.

  • The recently updated European Renewable Energy Directive requires member states to enshrine in law by latest 2021 a guarantee that those producing ‘self-generated renewable electricity’ receive ‘remuneration which reflects the market value and may take into account the long-term value...to the grid, the environment and society’. That deadline could coincide with the end of a Brexit transitional period. https://www.aib-net.org/documents/103816/5909180/Final+text+of+RED+II+post-trilogue/fac12256-fb7c-6248-b2e8-b50dcd333715

  • The export tariff is not a subsidy, as it is currently pays below the wholesale market rate for electricity, and as such carries no additional cost to the consumer.

  • STA figures suggest solar installation rates are down 85% from 2015.