Pressure mounts on UK Government over potential renewables betrayal

Politicians, environmental campaign groups, unions and academics are among those to have called for the protection of the UK’s solar power industry in an open letter to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne.

The UK Government stands accused of a breathtaking u-turn in support for solar power and other renewable energy. Early adopters of solar panels have already become casualties as Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed the earlier decision to pay the tariffs to early adopters has been reversed.

Now ongoing FiTs themselves are under threat, prompting lobbying from a large number of high profile personalities.

The open letter was co-ordinated by the We Support Solar campaign and comes in response to the continuing negative speculation about the future of the solar PV Tariff rates under next week’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Secretary of State Chris Huhne is urged to stand by the UK Solar Power Industry’s 3-year take-off in an open letter signed by dozens of prominent individuals from a wide range of organisations and political parties. Diverse signatories include Brendan Barber, Zac Goldsmith, Charles Kennedy, Baroness Angela Smith and Tony Juniper.

Leonie Greene, Campaign Manager at WSS said, “We co-ordinated this letter to remind the Coalition Government that very different people of all political colours support solar power. They want to see solar power take off for many reasons including jobs, social and commercial enterprise, climate change, energy security - and just sheer love of this incredible technology.”

The letter warns that a premature cut to feed-in tariff subsidies could damage the sector to a point of no return: "Current speculation over solar power FITs as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review is rocking investor confidence just 6 months into the scheme".

The UK has installed around 16MW of solar power in the first 6 months of the UK FIT scheme, the letter continues: "This currently represents a growth rate in line with DECC targets. Germany, which has a similar solar resource to the UK, installed more solar power in 2009 (3.8GW) than the anticipated total for all UK solar power installations to 2020 (2.7GW). For the compelling reasons you set out for renewables investment in your July Energy Statement, we urge you to increase the UK’s modest 2020 ambition for this very popular and reliable technology".

The UK Government stands accused of a dramatic u-turn in its support for renewable energy, with the industry literally holding its breath. As well as solar, it has been reported that plans to build three new factories that will make thousands of giant offshore wind turbines that would create an estimated 60,000 jobs are set to become the latest casualty of the spending review.


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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity