Diverse Supporters of Solar Power Urge Prime Minister To Intervene as Industry Faces Decapitation

Diverse supporters of solar from major NGOs, industry, farming, the construction sector, social housing, community groups and trade unions have today written an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to intervene in the Treasury funding cap that threatens to derail the UK’s solar power prospects. [Letter printed below].

The UK solar power industry is braced for bad news tomorrow when the government is expected to publish its response to the Fast-Track Feed-In Tariff review.  It is widely believed that the new Tariff rates for schemes over 50kW in size will not be commercially viable.  This will leave the UK solar power sector confined to domestic schemes just as major economies like China and Germany massively ramp up their solar ambitions.  

Ray Noble, STA’s PV Adviser said; “the Prime Minister needs to intervene to stop this terrible strategic mistake on solar power.  Solar can make a major positive contribution to our urgent green electricity and jobs needs.  Even mainstream analysis shows that under a stable investment framework the price of solar power will come down lower than many other energy generation options, including fossil fuels.  This letter shows solar has widespread and diverse support that should not be ignored.”

With FIT support removed over 50kW, support for non-domestic solar under the Renewables Obligation at 2 ROCs is too low to protect the sector. Solar is barely mentioned in the government’s Electricity Market Reform proposals despite mainstream analysis showing it will be cheaper than grid electricity by 2020.

The grim news is expected despite the Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker’s acknowledgement last week that DECC is underestimating the potential for solar.  His comments follow the Solar Trade Association’s publication of an alternative Solar Revolution Strategy, which argued for a doubling of investment in solar to deliver strong jobs and manufacturing and subsidy-free green power for everyone by 2017-2019. 

Signatories to the letter including RSPB, Friends of the Earth, major construction group Kingspan, UK solar manufacturer Romag/Gentoo, NFU, Tony Juniper and Dr Caroline Lucas who all urge the Prime Minister “to require DECC to review the situation and take action to raise UK ambitions for solar power in order to ensure the UK maintains and builds a strong solar industry.”

The industry and signatories to the letter strongly support the Feed-In Tariff system, which enables diverse projects and investors, and which has proved successful.  However the letter urges the Prime Minister to ensure DECC can pursue all options urgently to safeguard the industry.

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