Large scale solar could soon be the cheapest way to generate electricity in the UK, according to a new report by the Solar Trade Association (STA).

Under the trade body’s assessment of the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE), solar is now expected to cost around £50-60/MWh in 2019, down from £80/MWh in the 2014 assessment and also below BEIS’s 2016 estimate.

Although costs vary “significantly” from site to site, the STA said its findings confirm that, under a long-term power purchase contract, solar could soon be the cheapest technology and attractive for commercial and industrial users, as well as competitive with onshore wind and gas-fired power stations.

Pipeline restarting in 2019

Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of the STA, said; “We have a clear message for Government and corporate energy buyers today: UK solar electricity is now cost competitive with fossil fuels.

“By establishing the right policy framework for solar and storage, including expediting a smart, flexible energy system, government can enable this technology to realise its full potential in delivering an affordable, low-carbon future energy system.”

The report concluded that solar panels are likely to make up only 10% of the lifetime cost of solar farms by 2030.

A global surplus of panels is expected to boost the UK solar market during 2019 as developers push previously-stalled projects.

Solar farms have been excluded from the UK’s clean energy auctions since 2015, with the Renewables Obligation closing in 2017.

The STA said the “complex” energy market was “heavily distorted” by UK Government support for other technologies.

> Download the report