27 Conservative MPs have backed an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regneration Bill currently going through Parliament to make solar panels on new homes mandatory.
The wording (see page 50 of the amendments list) is as follows:
To move the following Clause—
“Solar panel requirements for new homes
(1) The Secretary of State must, before the end of the period of six months
beginning on the day this Act is passed, use the power under section 1 of the
Building Act 1984 to make building regulations for the purpose in subsection
(2) That purpose is to provide that all new homes built in England from 1 April
2025 must have solar panels installed.”
You can see an article by the mover of the amendment, John Stevenson MP, in support of mandatory solar panels HERE.
The sudden emergence of this pressure for legislation to mandate solar panels follows on fears that the next round of changes to building regulations to tighten emission reduction requirements could seriously weaken promotion of solar panels. The solar pv industry has been buoyed by the most recent regulations, brought in in June this year, which mandated around 30 per cent of emission reductions from new buildings compared to previous. This reduction can be more-or-less achieved in the case of an average new house with 2-3 kW of solar pv.
However discussions, most advanced in Scotland, have been occurring about the next round of much deeper emission reductions. It has emerged that cuts of, say, 75% can be achieved by ensuring the installation of heat pumps without the need to fit solar pv. You would need too many solar panels to get a 75% reduction in emissions on the average house.
Emily Rice, the Scotland Policy Analyst for Solar Energy UK, said ‘Interaction of new building regulations and New Build Heat Standard could kill (the) Scottish New Build Solar industry’. You can see/hear her and others at the recent Green Buildings webinar HERE
Of course what is happening in Scotland from 2024, with the new tightened regulations, is slated to be happening in England from 2026 – ie solar panels could be sidelined as deeper emission cuts are achieved by banning fossil fuel boilers.
The solar industry, led by Solar EnergyUK, therefore has been emboldened to pursue with renewed vigour the notion that solar pv should be mandated in new build, or face the disappearance of a vital part of the market for solar panels.
Of course groundwork for this campaign has been laid down by 100percentrenewableuk’s Green Buildings campaign which has been running for the past year. This has included collecting a petition and urging petition supporters to write to their MPs in support of mandatory solar pv on new homes. Hence the crystallisation of Parliamentary support for this objective can be regarded as a success. However we have still some way to go to obtain Government support – support for a policy of mandatory solar pv on roofs which has already become policy in the European Union.
Moreover the strategy of our green buildings campaign – to emphasise that campaigning for heat pumps AND solar pv are simultaneously necessary has been vindicated; neither of these approaches should be in competition with each other – or indeed in competition with the continued need to improve the fabric efficiency of new buildings and also improve the energy efficiency of existing housing. See our report HERE on how a real energy efficiency programme needs to be organised.
It would also help if the Opposition energy and climate spokesperson Ed Miliband could be vocal in support of this measure. So far we have not been able to detect a clear statement from him in support of mandatory solar pv on new buildings.
So please join the list of people supporting this campaign!
By David Toke
Campaign for green buildings – Make solar panels on suitable buildings mandatory and ban fossil fuel heating in new buildings SIGN the petition here!