Homeowner Blog

Election 2024: How do the Parties Line up on Net Zero and Solar?

Charlie McGibbon · 28 Jun 2024

So, there's less than a week to go until the 2024 election. While Labour are predicted to gain the biggest majority for any party since 1920 and issues of immigration and cost of living are dominating the agenda, we look in more depth at the net zero commitments of each of the parties and the impact their policies may have on the solar industry.

What are the Conservatives Saying?

While the Conservatives in previous governments did introduce the 0% VAT rate on domestic micro generation, and more recently the 0% VAT on domestic batteries, their manifesto prioritises what they call an "affordable and practical" route to net zero, with investments continuing in gas and north sea oil as well as green energy and nuclear power.

The manifesto also talks of a £6 billion investment in energy efficiency, including a "voucher scheme" to improve energy efficiency in homes. This sounds similar to the already existing ECO-4 scheme which provides grants to subsidise energy efficiency, but crucially the new scheme will be open to "every household in England" which differs from previous schemes which were aimed exclusively at low income households with a low EPC rating. This could certainly help a great many households realise an investment in solar panels, but as always the details are yet to be worked out.

The Conservatives also promise to reduce the red tape around planning permission - which may well allow certain households and businesses to install solar faster, though planning permission currently is not generally required for solar. This is somewhat offset by their commitment to protect the greenbelt, and restrict the building of large scale solar farms on agricultural land.

One of the more interesting points that may be missed in the Conservative manifesto is to introduce more local markets for electricity, essentially allowing prices to be dictated by regional rather than national demand. This idea has been floating around for a while, and could obviously be extremely beneficial for those with solar PV and/or battery systems, as it helps put microgeneration at the forefront, and may allow those with solar to command far more favourable rates in certain areas on an export basis.

Read the Conservative Manifesto Here: https://manifesto.conservatives.com/



Labour’s Policies

Labour, as most in Westminster are well aware, are the bookies favourite to form the next government, so it’s well worth looking at their policies in detail. The overarching strategy for Labour is to create a national energy company and invest heavily in infrastructure that will hasten net zero. This of course includes a significant investment in solar, as well as nuclear and other renewables. This will really shake up the energy market in the UK - and will likely be funded by higher taxation rather than an increase in bills. One of Labour’s core points is that by driving down the cost of energy in the UK, it will attract more businesses to invest, particularly in sectors that have a high energy consumption, as the high energy prices in the UK compared to many other leading economies put off investment in business and industry.

What will impact domestic customers is a similar pledge to the Tories in terms of investing in energy efficiency, including the installation of solar panels. Labour say they will be investing £6.6 billion towards this, in cash grants and low interest loans, as opposed to the Tories system of vouchers.

From businesses’ point of view, Labour also talks of a “National Wealth Fund” to support “the most energy intensive sectors to decarbonise”, which could be very good news for organisations looking to install solar to get their carbon footprint down. As always the devil is in the details and which industries will fall under the “most energy intensive sectors” remains to be seen.

Perhaps the most important point in the manifesto for microgeneration is Labour’s commitment to “rewire Britain” - they speak of the national grid being “the single biggest obstacle to the deployment of cheap, clean power generation and the electrification of industry”. This could have big implications for the ease and likelihood of acceptance for DNO applications - a key speedbump on many people's road to solar.

Read the full Labour manifesto here: https://labour.org.uk/change/


The Liberal Democrat Manifesto

Like Labour, the Liberal Democrats are putting forward net zero and energy security as key priorities for the country. They say they will put climate change "at the heart" of industrial policy and commit 90% of the UK's energy being produced by renewables by 2030. Their strategy emphasises devolving energy decisions to local authorities more than Labour who put more of a focus on national infrastructure, but the Lib Dems do put solar at the heart of their plans.

The Liberal Democrats are promising to drive a "rooftop solar revolution"  by expanding the incentives for households to install solar panels. They are also, like the other parties, promising to fund improvements to increase the energy efficiency in homes, including heat pumps and free insulation. They pledge to make all new homes zero carbon, which will normally include solar panels. There are existing requirements for energy efficiency in new builds, but the wording of the Liberal Democrat manifesto suggests these requirements would become far more stringent. 

More controversially, they are also going to reintroduce the requirement for landlords to ensure homes they rent out are EPC rated "C" or above, which was previously scrapped. Adding more motivation for landlords to invest in Solar PV technologies, in addition to the generous grants.

Like Labour, they also are going to encourage investment in grid infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on empowering local authorities to develop their own strategies with regard to microgeneration and battery storage capabilities. There is the promise to give microgenerators the ability to “export their electricity to an existing electricity supplier on fair terms” though how this will differ from the existing SEG scheme remains to be seen.

Read the Liberal Democrat Manifesto here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/manifesto

The Greens

The Green party are the ones putting the most hope in solar, promising to deliver 100 GW of solar by 2035 in addition to wind energy. However, unlike the other parties their manifesto is lacking in detail on how this would actually be delivered - there is little discussion of the energy network or microgeneration, though they do promise to support the "rooftop solar revolution".

They also highlight their track record in local councils of improving the energy efficiency of houses, and with the Lib Dems, pledge that all new homes will be carbon neutral, and the figure they are putting behind the drive to the increase the energy efficiency of houses is £29 Billion, dwarfing Labour and the Tories' figures of £6.6 Billion and £6 Billion respectively, and aiming for an EPC rating of "B" to be the minimum standard.

Read the Green Party Manifesto here: https://greenparty.org.uk/about/our-manifesto/

Reform UK

Reform UK want to end the insistence on net zero to boost growth and make more of the UK's natural resources in the form of oil and gas, with little investment in renewables other than nuclear. The only mention of solar in their manifesto is to stop the building of solar farms on agricultural land, although they do want to encourage lithium mining in the UK, which may help with the production of electric batteries and be good news for British suppliers of home batteries such as GivEnergy.

Read Reform UK's policy documents here: https://www.reformparty.uk/policies


Overall, the parties have different, if at times overlapping, strategies around the future of the UK's energy and net zero ambitions. While energy makes up just one small part of their manifestos, climate change is undoubtedly one of the great challenges of our times so it's good to see so many of the parties taking it seriously. But whatever the priorities for you, don't forget your vote counts on July 4th, so do get out and vote.

Topics: Battery storage, Solar PV, Environment