With COP 17 underway, STA urges UK politicians to secure 'exceptional' industry

With COP 17 underway, STA urges UK politicians to secure 'exceptional' industry

The scale of job losses anticipated by the Solar Trade Association (STA) in the solar sector has now been starkly illustrated by Carillion's announcement that 4,500 staff are on redundancy notice with an expected 1,500 job losses in the New Year. The construction giant's entire energy services division is at risk of closure after an investment earlier this year of over £300 million.

STA's own industry survey two weeks ago anticipated job losses of 42% in response to the sudden proposed changes in tariffs . While large company casualties are now attracting headlines, small firms are particularly vulnerable. STA anticipated initial job losses of around 9,000, but the entire sector is at risk after December 12th, as new unconfirmed tariff levels and unclear eligibility criteria will prevent business activity. DECC's own analysis shows the market could be cut over 90%. The scale of uncertainty leaves the whole sector edging towards the cliff edge.

The job loss announcements begin as DECC ministers are at the COP17 in Durban seeking legally binding targets to limit global temperature rises to two degrees Celsius. IPCC Chairman Dr Pachauri set out the vital importance of delivering renewable energy in his Durban conference statement. The IPCC's recent report on renewable energy  identify Feed-In Tariffs as the most effective instrument for driving renewable energy. IPCC also identified solar as the dominant technology in the fight against climate change.

Solar is the UK's second largest renewable energy resource with the potential to meet a third of UK electricity supply from south-facing roofs and facades alone. Domestic solar power is now cheaper than micro-wind and the same price as micro-hydro. Non-domestic solar is cheaper than anaerobic digestion.

STA Chairman Howard Johns said; "Something is going horribly wrong here. We have in solar a technology that can deliver nothing less than an energy revolution and thousands of jobs for less than £4 on bills by the end of this Parliament - a fraction of the £200+ added to energy bills by fossil fuel price rises this year alone. 

Rather than infrastructure announcements in new roads and gas power stations we need bold steps from the Coalition Government to secure the future of this exceptional technology. Instead we are watching DECC ministers in Durban while the UK solar industry starts to crumble. We need action from both Coalition partners here at home urgently."

The STA has written to Secretary of State Chris Huhne urging a sensible solution to the crisis faced by the UK solar industry. STA is seeking urgent support from politicians of all parties to secure the UK industry and public investment to date.

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