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Public thinks subsidies vastly higher than they are for solar, poll finds

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Solar Trade Association (STA) has found that the public thinks subsidies for solar power are 22 times higher than they actually are.

On average, respondents estimated that subsidising solar costs individual households £196 per year – but in reality, it only accounts for £9 on an average household bill of £1,300 a year. The median estimate was £100, and many respondents said they did not know.

A survey on wind power earlier this year found that perceptions of its cost were equally high.

STA chief executive Paul Barwell said: “The government has justified the cuts to solar and renewables on the basis of reducing costs on bills, but hasn’t told people that the cost of getting solar subsidy-free – a breakthrough achievement – is relatively modest.

“This survey shows that solar is cheaper than many people think and that the perception of the cost of solar on bills has become grossly inflated. We need to put this right.”

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) last week released the results of its latest opinion poll on public attitudes to energy.

The regular survey found yet again that solar is the nation’s favourite source of energy at 80%, higher than every other renewable or conventional energy technology.

In addition, a ComRes survey for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) showed last week that public support for renewables subsidies combined was at 83%, and solar specifically has 73% support.

The STA’s poll comes as the government is due to make its final decision on how much to cut Feed-in Tariff subsidies for solar.

The DECC this summer published proposals to slash tariffs by up to 87% and set stringent caps on the maximum amount of solar that can be deployed.

The STA responded by putting forward a “£1 emergency solar rescue plan” – which has been backed by 30 MPs from all political parties, including several Conservatives.

The plan would only add an extra £1 a year on average household energy bills from 2019 for new solar deployed over the next three years, which would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 875,000 homes.

This would allow solar to continue, while giving the government the cost control guarantees it needs.

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