Solar Trade Association Proposes Emergency Plan To Save Renewables
Posted on: 20/10/2015

The solar power industry has proposed an emergency plan to rescue renewables, which it says would add just £1 to consumer bills by 2019, on top of the £9 a year that clean technology subsidies cost bill payers. The scheme is a response to government plans to cut subsidies for rooftop solar panel installations by 87% from 1 January.

Solar companies are already going bust as a result of the changes, with an estimated 1,000 jobs lost so far. The government have been blamed for not supporting the technology; a company backed by billionaire inventor Elon Musk pulled out of the UK last Friday as a result.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) plan would include higher initial tariffs for subsidies to make investing in the technology viable, with reductions set out to allow the government to control costs and give the industry certainty. The plan would ensure that families, farmers, housing associations and community groups could continue to be involved in the move towards low-carbon power and give them more control over their energy, the STA argues.

The STA believes the plan would allow the solar power industry to become subsidy-free, preserve 15,000 to 20,000 jobs and enable hundreds of thousands more homes to become solar powered.

“Our priority is to keep bills as low as possible for hard-working families and businesses, while reducing our emissions in the most cost-effective way,” said a DECC spokesman, “Government subsidies have driven down the cost of renewable technologies significantly and we delivered much higher deployment and more than the promised subsidies to the industry.”

The government has said it wants to cut industry subsidies to relieve costs on the public. Their plan is to reduce a £1.5bn cost overrun in the amount of subsidies being paid to the renewable energy sector by 2020/21, but have indicated that more measures would follow to slash costs.

However, the planned cuts to subsidies for solar would only net between £40m and £100m by 2020, the equivalent of 50p to £1.20 a year off the average electricity bill, according to government background documents. The STA would require roughly £93m to fulfil the ‘rescue package’ in order to save dozens of firms and thousands of jobs within the sector.

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