Industry Leaders Hail Potential Of Solar In Subsidy Free Era
Sonya Bedford MBE, partner and head of energy at Stephens Scown LLP
Those who thought that the end of subsidies for solar energy
projects would signal the death knell for the industry are wrong. That is
according to leading figures in the industry who have spoken out about the
potential of the sector.
The Government's Feed-In Tariff closed to new applicants at
the end of March this year. Under the scheme, householders received payments
for the electricity generated by eligible installed systems including solar PV.
“We are living proof that the Feed-In tariff scheme worked,”
says Scott Burrows, Managing Director of Devon-based Eden Sustainable. “The
Feed-In Tariff created a market for investment in solar, with businesses like
ours working to meet demand. Now that the scheme has closed we are left with a
healthy market place, with momentum for growth in the commercial and industrial
One of the UK's leading energy lawyers, Sonya Bedford MBE,
partner and head of energy at Stephens Scown LLP, agrees: “Globally, solar
power capacity has more than tripled between 2012 and 2016, according to the
International Energy Agency. Solar has grown in the UK too, currently providing
enough power to supply three million UK homes. Back in 2010, the solar power
industry was on its last legs, but now it is booming.
“It is the fall in costs for solar that is driving this,
with the cost of solar panels having fallen by 80 per cent since 2008. The UK
Government is now committed to generating 15 per cent of the country's energy
demand from renewable energy by 2020. The resulting increase in demand for
solar power has in turn driven the growth of large-scale solar serving
industrial and commercial users and the national grid.”
Sonya Bedford has multiple energy industry awards. She
received her MBE for services to renewable energy in 2018. Stephens Scown's
energy team has worked on over 3GW of solar projects across the UK.
Eden Sustainable is one of Stephens Scown's clients, with
the law firm providing legal advice on a host of solar projects across the UK
as well as its recent strategic funding partnership with AMP Clean Energy. Eden
Sustainable will develop and finance solar projects, with a 40MW pipeline (15MW
of it advanced), targeting around a £10m investment including SMEs, public
sector, education, and listed companies.
Eden Sustainable's profits feed into the Pickwell
Foundation, which funds projects to support action on climate change and to
help displaced people. Eden Sustainable believes solar has a particularly
potent role to play in education. There are often complex consents required to
successfully invest in this space, but Stephens Scown and Eden have become
experts at navigating this space and believe there is a fantastic potential for
disseminating the message of sustainable energy to students, the decision makers
of the future.
Stephens Scown has over 300 staff, including more than 50
partners, across its offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell. The firm has been
ranked for five consecutive years in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to
Work For. It is the first large law firm to become employee-owned. For more
information visit www.stephens-scown.co.uk