STA Welcomes ECCC/EAC Solar Inquiry Report

Joint Committee Urges Government to Consider Budget Flexibility and Abandon EPC-C

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has largely welcomed the findings of the Energy and Climate Change Committee/Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into solar power.  The Committees criticised Government for 'shocking' the UK solar industry with sudden changes, having failed to implement a structured control mechanism to manage the popular Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme.

STA Chairman Howard Johns, who gave evidence to the Committee said;

"We are particularly pleased the Committees have urged DECC to abandon the more extreme energy efficiency eligibility proposals (EPC-C) which could stamp out the UK solar market next year.  They have also urged DECC to look at how the budget cap could be loosened under different budget classifications – that might sound a rather dry recommendation but it is an essential one if we are to retain a UK solar industry. The Committees have rightly pointed out that these changes hit social homes and communities hardest and have already hit confidence in the sector."

Further recommendations welcomed by the STA include:

  • allowing the completion of applications for solar FITs which have made contractual financial commitments,
  • supporting UK manufacturing opportunities through BIS and DECC collaboration,
  • a regular and predictable scheme management mechanism,
  • increasing the export tariff for surplus power exported to the grid,
  • analysing jobs, tax receipts and wider economic benefits,
  • introducing a 'community tariff' for wider public benefit schemes.

Evidence to the joint committee from DECC makes clear the original budget is largely expended (90% as of end of November).  The UK industry is now fearful for its very survival.

Both the STA and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) have been urging DECC to renew their commitment to solar to ensure that the UK industry can continue to flourish.  Because the cost of solar is decreasing so fast, the additional budget requirement is considerably less than the costs of this year's solar installations.  REA/STA estimate only £150 million is needed this Parliament above and beyond the 2 ROC (8.5p) support levels deemed acceptable by DECC.  With HMT receiving an estimated £275 million in tax revenues from solar this year and the sector employing 25,000 to 30,000 people, the proposals make strong economic sense.

Howard Johns added;

"We are very pleased that two Select Committees have looked hard at the difficult situation for solar and put forward helpful recommendations in a very short space of time.  What is missing, however, is recognition that solar can deliver nothing less than an energy revolution at a cost to households lower than, for example, the levy imposed by wind energy.  We believe DECC are increasingly understanding the strategic importance of maintaining investment in solar and we are keen to work with them."

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