One leading renewable energy company branded the Government’s clampdown on solar power projects “a joke” which threatened to damage job creation and economic growth. And the UK's Renewable Energy Association went as far as to call the review "horrendous".
The Government wants to cut the subsidy for installations producing 50kW to 150kW from 32.9p/kWh to 19p, while installations producing over 150kW will have their subsidy cut from 30.7p to 15.7p. Solar farms producing over 250kW would receive only 8.5p.
David Hunt, a director with Liverpool-headquartered Eco Environments, said: “The Government’s claim to be the greenest ever is in tatters. While we accept that solar farm scale projects of 1MW plus do warrant review, reducing the tariff significantly for installations of just over 50kWp is farcical.
“There is a huge gulf between 50kWp and 1 MW. This decision seriously impacts on community projects and businesses trying to reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprints. In short the decision shows the Government’s understanding of the green economy to be a joke."
Andrew Lee, head of International Sales at Sharp Solar, Europe’s biggest solar manufacturer which is based here in the UK, added, “the announcement by Greg Barker is extremely disappointing and effectively destroys the solar industry for installations above 50kw. We agree that the issue of solar farms needed to be addressed, however this over-zealous proposal will wipe out community projects like installations on schools, hospitals and churches, will halt business and industrial investment, and will limit solar to small-scale domestic projects. This is terrible news for the renewable energy sector – the steep rise in job creation will stop and morale within the industry will drop as a result of this remarkable u-turn.”
Many consider the Government's decision especially bad considering the recent tragic events in Japan. And while some countries such as Germany and China are re-evaluating their nuclear futures in light of the safety concerns resulting from the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the UK Government seems keen to press ahead with its own nuclear programme.
“One tenth of all the nuclear reactors in the world are in Japan,” said Ken Moss, ceo of mO3 Power – the UK’s largest solar developer. “They have more developed technology and nuclear experience than any other nation and yet their industry is in meltdown. We have to review our own nuclear options.”
EDF, the French Power giant that is building new reactors in Britain, said that their plans were developing unhindered.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the other hand has already announced the closure of seven reactors and Germany’s ‘measured exit’ from nuclear power production. China has put on hold its plans to build 110 new reactors and the Swiss government has delayed decisions on new nuclear plants. Austrian politicians have demanded new safety regulations for nuclear plants throughout Europe and the EU plans a meeting of energy ministers imminently to debate nuclear safety.
“The ability to insure Nuclear Power stations will come under severe threat in the light of the Japanese disaster. Are the Governments of the world going to be the last port of call if they cannot be insured? I think not! Renewable alternatives are available and the DECC should be doing their utmost to develop them,” added Moss:
“The situations in Japan and the UK are obviously very different and nuclear energy still has a part in the power mix for Britain’s low-carbon future but it is unbelievable that the DECC have chosen to end the development of solar technology in Britain.”
Greg Barker, the UK Minister for Climate Change, says that DECC is proposing to cut the Feed in Tariff for commercial solar development by more than 70% from August this year.
“If ratified, this cut in the FiT would effectively end all commercial development of solar energy in the UK,” said Mr Moss. “If we are to build fewer but safer reactors in the future then it is imperative that we develop all our renewable options. It is astonishing that the DECC have decided to take solar out of the equation.”