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Jeremy Leggett, head of Solar Century has predicted that solar energy will reach grid parity with energy produced by non-renewable means by 2013, seven years ahead of previous predictions. Speaking at yesterday’s ‘We Support Solar’ event, Leggett announced that with recent support given to the solar industry in the UK through legislation the price paid for solar generated electricity will reach a parity with coal produced electricity.

The concept of Grid Parity has always been the ‘holy grail’ within the solar industry with solar supporters extolling the need for government action in order to ensure that the photovoltaic (PV) industry evolves into a viable competitor to fossil fuel producers. Detractors of the notion of a possible grid parity have traditionally asserted that solar will never compete with fossil fuel energy on price because of the costs associated with installing and maintaining PV plant.

However, the recently passed feed-in tariff legislation which offers solar energy producers a premium rate for energy they feed back in to the national grid will prove to be extremely effective in attracting investment in the solar industry. Speaking about the solar naysayers among the energy industry Jeremy Leggett commented,

“The chief executive of British Petroleum said that solar will never be economically viable without technological breakthroughs. He is going down the road saying that, we say it will be on cost parity with electricity by 2013. We are going to find out who is right.”

Certainly with recent reports from America that two-thirds of the United States will achieve grid parity by 2015, the future seems to be mapping out truly in favour of solar energy on both sides of the Atlantic, a situation which won’t go unnoticed by investors looking for long term investment yields.

Also at the event, Joan Ruddock, acting as spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced that the government would strive to reach its carbon reduction targets through a specific focus on “small-scale renewable technologies, such as solar PV”, going on to add,

“We know that it is not just a case of generating ideas and many of you have pushed for greater incentives, so we are introducing what is going to be called a clean energy cash back, that is much easier for ordinary people to understand than a feed-in tariff for people in these difficult economic times and it will be important to encourage people at this time.”

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