An excellent Solar Rooftop Installation debate last week

On Wednesday last week the MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas set out a debate under the theme of Solar Rooftop Installation which was a very constructive session. Three other MPs contributed to the event who were Jim Shannon the DUP at Strangford and two Conservatives, John Stevenson for Carlisle and Graham Stuart the Government Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero and the MP for Beverley and Holderness in Yorkshire. The initial words from Graham Stuart that emerged after the other people had spoken was

“Let me begin by congratulating Caroline Lucas on securing this important debate and giving such an impassioned, well-informed, moderate and fair speech. I say that all the more so because I think I chided her the last time we were in this Chamber. She has continued to be a champion for rooftop solar, alongside my hon. Friend John Stevenson, and that is a passion that I think we all share.”

At the beginning of the session the contribution from Caroline included these words

“There is no doubt that the number of solar rooftop installations has soared in the last decade or so, and I applaud that achievement. I am also happy to applaud this Government’s ambition to increase solar from its current capacity of around 15 GW all the way up to 50 GW by 2030 and then 70 GW by 2035. I am sure we are all united in recognising that achieving and, indeed, surpassing that target is vital. Solar Energy UK estimates that, of the 15 GW of solar power capacity currently in place, around two thirds is on the ground, and the remainder is on residential and commercial roofs. This morning, I want to make the case for the installation of solar panels on all suitable new-build homes to be made mandatory and to explore how to overcome some of the obstacles to domestic solar.”

Jim Shannon then responded with these comments

“I commend the hon. Lady for raising this issue. In my constituency, we are very keen to endorse this. Does she agree that solar roof panels can enhance the value of a property and that, for large families who use lots of hot water, the savings generated and the benefit to the environment can make the up-front cost worth while?”

Caroline responded with

“The hon. Member makes my point beautifully. This is a win-win policy: it is good for householders and good for the environment, and it is good to get people’s bills down too. I thank him for that intervention, with which I entirely agree. Some 80% of the buildings that we will have in 2050 have already been built, and we must work hard to retrofit them with renewables, but the remaining 20% have still to be built, and maximising the deployment of on-site solar generation in new-build homes could be a real game changer. If we are serious about continuing and accelerating ++-what has been achieved to date and generating a successful rooftop revolution, we should be mandating that all suitable new homes come with solar panels as standard. The Government have an opportunity to do that with the new future homes standard.”

Following a few more words there was a contribution from John Stevenson

“I congratulate the hon. Lady on securing this interesting debate. It feels a bit like groundhog day, because in September 2017 I had a Westminster Hall debate on this very subject. Had the Government followed her suggestion, we would have 1 million new homes with solar panels today. Does she agree that making this compulsory would not only lead to 150,000-plus houses per year getting solar panels but would, in time, lead to price reduction, making it cheaper, and innovation?”

The response from Caroline was

“I pay tribute to the hon. Member for his leadership in this area. I am continuing, I hope, the great work that he did, and I agree with him entirely that there are so many wins. It makes economic sense for people, and it also makes sense for supply chains, because if they had the certainty of knowing that this was going to be a mandatory requirement, they would be able to gear up for it.”

The discussion continued and the session closed with the last words from Graham Stuart

“I thank the hon. Lady for securing the debate, for the way that she has conducted it and for the arguments she has put forward. Working in conjunction with my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, I am sure we can meet and take this matter further.”

This was clearly a very positive debate and there appears to be a genuine prospect for the homes in our nation to be strengthened in the future by solar rooftop installations following the call from Caroline and her colleagues.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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