A proposal put forward by the solar industry in the UK is aimed at saving the renewable energy sector in this country. The companies that have put the plan together say that it will only add £1 per year to people’s energy bills- in addition to the £9 per year that is already paid towards renewable energy in the form of subsidies.
This news comes as the government announced its intentions to cut the amount that rooftop solar panels are subsidised by up to 87%. The STA (Solar Trade Association) has already issued a warning that this cut to subsidies could result in job losses numbering up to 27,000 and would also mean that taxpayer money, which has already been spent on the energy source, has been wasted.
These changes are scheduled to be brought in by 1 January but the proposed changes have already seen 1,000 people lose their jobs. Elon Musk’s company withdrew from the UK and cited the government’s cuts as the direct cause of this policy shift. Zep Solar UK, a subsidiary of SolarCity- the company chaired by Musk, was the fourth British Solar company to close in two weeks.
The plan that has been suggested by the STA includes higher initial tariffs for subsidies, which would increase the viability of investing in the industry. They argue that measures such as these would make it much more realistic for farmers, families and housing associations to contribute towards a shift towards carbon free energy, whilst maintaining more power over their energy supply.
Paul Barwell, the chief executive of the STA, stated:
“Solar is the future and this is recognised the world over. We think the British public will find it very hard to understand why government would decimate the nation’s favourite energy source for the sake of just a quid on bills. But we do need government to act quickly now.”
The Solar Trade Association believes that its proposal will let the industry rid itself of the need of subsidies, whilst at the same time preserving jobs and improving the impact of the energy sector on the environment. However, the government believes that the cuts to subsidies are necessary in order to alleviate the costs to the taxpayer.
A spokesman for the DECC said:
“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,”
“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.”
Many environmental campaign groups have stated that there is an inconsistency between the government’s approach to energy sources like solar power, and nuclear power. They point to the government’s readiness to grant subsidies worth £92.50 per mWh for the next 35 years towards the development of Hinkley Point C by EDF.
Greenpeace recently carried out a survey of 2,000 people to gauge their opinions on the £24.5bn scheme, which is to be undertaken by a group of Chinese investors. In statement, Greenpeace said that this poll was a “major embarrassment” for the British government in the build up to the visit of the Chinese president this week.
President Xi Jinping is expected to make an announcement, during his visit, that will confirm the Chinese investment in Hinkley Point C. The study went on to reveal that 20% of people now have a lower opinion of George Osborne than they did before he began his negotiations with China.
Dr Doug Parr is the chief scientist for Greenpeace:
“He’s putting British clean tech firms out of business whilst lavishing billions on a foreign state-owned nuclear industry, none of this makes any economic, political, or business sense.”