Solar could get popularity boost due to Brexit

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Solar energy companies could fill the void created by the lack of secure energy transfer between UK and EU from Brexit, experts say.

The UK has dropped from seventh to eighth in the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness index as the country’s parliament tries to figure out how it will exit the European Union (Brexit) on its currently scheduled departure date of April 12, 2019.

A no-deal Brexit for the UK is still possible, meaning that it would leave the EU without any agreements about how the relationship between London and Brussels would appear in the future. As a result, investment in UK renewables has dropped by 46 per cent due to the uncertainty of how Brexit may alter the cost of exported energy to the continent, as well as the price of imported renewable equipment.

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Yet despite the uncertain future between the UK and the EU, solar energy is set to experience a boost in the UK, partially thanks to the political turmoil that threatens to engulf the country. No agreement means no stable EU-UK energy transfer deals, and solar energy has more chance to grow in unstable conditions than traditional energy sources.

Since 2008, solar power has become the second most popular form of renewable energy behind wind in the UK. In 2018, it generated one-fifth of the country’s electricity during the summer months and almost 850,000 UK-based homes have been fitted with solar panels.

Energy experts attribute the rise in solar’s popularity to the European Commission’s lift of trade controls or ‘import tariffs’ on Chinese-made solar panels in September 2018. The removal of this Minimum Price Import (MIP) means that the price of Chinese imports would drop by 20 per cent. As a result, this has led to cheaper solar installation systems being offered to consumers, and in the UK the cost of a 4KW system has dropped from £12,000 to £14,000 to around £6,000.

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One of the largest solar energy providers in Central-Eastern Europe, Sun Investment Group, says what happens next amidst the current Brexit drama is anyone’s guess. However, with lifted trade controls on Chinese imports and UK homes and businesses seeking for a stable energy source, solar energy stands poised to benefit from the current political uncertainty.