Millions more homes should have solar panels on their roofs, the new energy secretary has suggested, vowing to “unleash a new solar revolution” across Britain.
Amber Rudd, the former climate change minister, was promoted to lead the energy department in this week’s reshuffle, in a move that was welcomed by many green groups.
Ms Rudd indicated she would back the continued expansion of household solar panels, which are heavily subsidised by consumers through levies on energy bills.
“I want to unleash a new solar revolution – we have a million people living under roofs with solar panels and that number needs to increase,” she told her local newspaper, the Hastings & St Leonards Observer.
The Coalition government introduced a generous subsidy scheme to encourage households to install solar panels, triggering a boom that far exceeded ministers’ expectations and saw them embroiled in a High Court battle over attempts to rein in the payments.
In total about 640,000 homes now have panels installed. The annual cost of the scheme is now estimated to be in excess of £800 million a year – almost twice the level ministers originally anticipated, as a result of the early boom.
Critics say the scheme enables wealthy families to rake in subsidies paid for by many who are already struggling with their energy bills.