Greenwash? UK Solar Farms Pushed Agriculture Out Of 62,000 Acres Subsidies Greater Than Revenue

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed May 6 14:38:54 BST 2020

Greenwash? UK Solar Farms Push Agriculture Out Of 
62,000 Acres, Subsidies Greater Than Revenue

Remember all the fuss about vegetable oil biofuel 
taking over desperately needed productive land...?

Solar photovoltaic electricity in agriculture

If 10 GW of solar power were ground-mounted (half 
the national ambition for 2020 set by DECC), 
this, would occupy at most 25,000 hectares 
(62,000 acres) – just 0.14% of total UK 
agricultural area (18 million ha) with a 
negligible impact on national food security. 
Solar farms are a temporary and reversible use of 
farmland – the modules are typically mounted on 
screw piles, to be removed at the end of the 
25-year planning consent period, enabling land to return to agriculture.

Public support for solar farms fading says expert

more large-scale solar projects are constructed, 
public support for solar farms will eventually 
run out an expert in the West Country has 
predicted. Solar PV applications have increased 
by 600% in the South West over the past year and 
the projects appear to be growing larger.

Solar farms receive more cash from green 
subsidies than selling the energy they produce

    * British energy producers were given 
generous handouts to introduce solar farms
    * But many make the majority of their cash 
from the ‘green levy’ on taxpayers’ bills
    * Total subsidy provided to solar electricity 
generators last year was about £1.2bn

DAILY MAIL PUBLISHED: 01:14, 9 April 2018

Britain’s biggest solar farms receive more cash 
from green subsidies than from selling the 
electricity they produce, figures reveal. Energy 
producers were encouraged to start solar farms 
with generous handouts funded by a ‘green levy’ 
on taxpayers’ bills. But many of them now make 
the majority of their cash from the subsidy – 
instead of the electricity they produce.

The total subsidy provided to all generators of 
solar electricity last year is estimated to be 
about £1.2billion. This was part of the 
£5.6billion subsidy paid to green energy 
producers, which critics say inflates household 
energy bills. Figures from the Department for 
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) 
following a Freedom of Information request show 
ten of the biggest solar farms in the country 
pocketed more than £2.5million each in 
eco-subsidy last year. The payouts were offered 
to help increase the amount of ‘green’ energy produced in the UK.

The solar subsidy is responsible for around £15 a 
year on a household power bill. However the 
system – which guarantees the handouts for 15 or 
20 years – has been overly generous. Treasury 
officials have stopped new deals being made with 
solar farms in a bid to stop haemorrhaging huge 
amounts of cash. But farms with existing deals 
are guaranteed generous handouts until the end of their contracts.


Last year’s biggest beneficiary was the Owl’s 
Hatch Solar park, in Herne Bay, Kent. The 
200-acre site generated just over 54,000 MWh of 
electricity, worth around £2.5million, but was 
given a handout of £3.8million. The farm is owned 
by Cubico Sustainable Investments, which has 
seven other smaller solar farms in England.

The nation’s largest installation, Shotwick Solar 
Park, in Deeside, North Wales, was handed a 
£3.5million subsidy, which was pocketed by owner 
Foresight Solar Fund. It also generated electricity worth around £2.5million.

Dr Lee Moroney, of the Renewable Energy 
Foundation charity, said: ‘The moratorium on new 
subsidies to renewables was the right thing to 
do, but it is a classic case of shutting the 
stable door after the horse has bolted. ‘The 
legacy subsidies are themselves so high 
Government must consider retrospective cuts to 
reduce what is an unreasonable burden on the consumer and the wider economy.’

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