PV 'can match nuke in two years'

UK PV developer Lightsource has written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to move away from debates over cutting “green taxes” and to back renewables – claiming solar could deliver the equivalent of a nuclear power plant in less than two years.

Mike Turner, operations director of Lightsource, says to avoid the ever increasing risk of power blackouts, £100bn ($162bn) urgently needs to be spent on replacing the 20% of the UK’s electricity capacity scheduled to be turned off by 2018.

Turner says while Britain's newly-announced Hinkley Point C nuclear plant will make a material contribution to plugging the energy gap without further perpetuating the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels, this new power station will only be of use in ten years’ time at the earliest.

“It is our belief that something needs to be done now to address our energy security needs. We must act to protect consumers from energy prices that have risen by over 25% since 2009.”

He claims solar power can provide energy security quickly, reduce electricity bills and protect the environment at the same time. It not only provides for local electricity demand, but also contributes to the stability of the rural economy and creates local jobs.

“The solar sector in the UK is gaining traction and the experience in Italy and Germany has shown that the industry has the capability to deliver the same energy production as Hinkley Point C in less than two years and at a comparable cost.”

However, he warns that Cameron’s pledge to roll back some green regulations and charges will shake investor’ confidence in the important role the government has to play in providing the modest and declining support  this nascent sector receives until it becomes fully self-sufficient.

“Solar power will not be the entire solution but if we supported its deployment then within a couple of years we could have 10% of the UK’s energy mix completely free from the vagaries of the global fossil fuel markets.”

Earlier this week Cameron announced in the House of Commons a review of the costs that environmental initiatives add to consumers bills and “a proper competition test” of the UK energy market.

The moves will be discussed with Liberal Democrat ministers, their partners in the UK's governing coalition, before an announcement expected in finance minister George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on 4 December.