Sian Crampsie

The UK government has announced details of the next round of renewable energy auctions, confirming plans to once again allow onshore wind energy and solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies to compete for support.

The next auction round of the contracts for difference (CFD) scheme will open in 2021, and will also include floating offshore wind technologies and energy storage, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said.

Other changes to the scheme will include giving local communities “a more effective voice” on developments through proposals for tough new guidance on community engagement. “It will remain the case that no English onshore wind project can proceed without the consent of the local community,” BEIS said.

Secretary of State for Business and Energy Alok Sharma said: “Ending our contribution to climate change means making the UK a world leader in renewable energy.

“We are determined to do that in a way that works for everyone, listening to local communities and giving them an effective voice in decisions that affect them.”

The move to include onshore wind and solar energy in the CFD auction was widely welcomed by the renewables industry.”

Solar Trade Association (STA) Chief Executive Chris Hewett said: “Today’s announcement marks a major shift in the right direction for government policy on onshore renewables, and a welcome opportunity for the solar industry.

“New clean power auctions for Pot 1 technologies will accelerate the decarbonisation of the power sector and drive the shift towards net zero, bringing with it new jobs, cheaper electricity and opportunities closer to home for Britain’s highly experienced solar investors.”

The Committee on Climate Change has regularly recommended new government-led clean power auctions for solar and onshore wind to support the UK’s decarbonisation targets, as well as keeping the cost of energy down for bill-payers. It estimates that the UK’s solar power capacity will have to triple by 2030 in order to be on track for the government’s legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, STA said.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal said: “The government is pressing ahead with action to meet our net zero emissions target quickly and at lowest cost to consumers and businesses. Backing cheap renewables is a clear example of the practical action to tackle climate change that the public is demanding, and this will speed up the transition to a net zero economy.”