“Cut, Don’t Kill” Our Solar Future

By Chris Witte.

On Monday 31st of October, the Government will announce a comprehensive review of the Solar PV Feed in Tariff (FiT ) incentive system. Leaked documents from the EST ( Energy Savings Trust ) show the Tariff being reduced massively. http://www.businessgreen.com/digital_assets/3612/Energy_Saving_Trust_FIT_review_fact_sheet.pdf 

Everyone accepts the premise that the costs of Solar PV systems have come down over the last 12 months and that the tariff rates should be reviewed. In fact Solar modules have decreased in cost by c.20% since April 2010. But the Government insists on pushing through cuts of between 70 and 80% to the incentive. In times of austerity this might seem a sensible approach.

However, the UK Solar industry employs 25,000 professionals compared with just 3,000 in 2010, and the number of solar businesses has increased from 450 in 2010 to over 3,000 today according to the MCS ( Microgeneration Certification Scheme). This growth path would see 360,000 new jobs created by 2020 and several billion in extra taxation flowing into the Treasury. This industry has huge job creation potential and therefore should be supported by the Government.

The big 6 energy companies fought hard to prevent the original FiT coming into existence and they are using their media muscle to spread lies in the national press, by claiming the cost of Solar PV is adding up to £60 per year to domestic energy bills. The correct number is £0.35 pence per year, but this will rise as installations rise. However, for the forseeable future it is safe to say the cost of Solar PV on domestic energy bills will remain well under £1.

But why are the energy giants running scared? It is because Solar PV is the only renewable energy where costs are coming down consistently, and in a few years time will be producing electricity at less than national grid prices without any incentives.

At this stage their business models will be under real threat, and they know it. That’s why they have 34 lobbyists and employees seconded into Government departments right now.
So what is the real problem for the Government? Well they created the problem themselves when they changed the open ended FiT to a capped scheme with a total of £867m spread over 5 years. That sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider the tax inflow of the 25,000 new jobs that gives the Treasury £200m per year. The additional spend into the economy from these jobs is c£125m per year. Not to mention the additional corporation tax the nearly 3,000 new solar businesses are paying; you soon realise how positive an investment of less than £1 from you and I can be.

So what happens next? We have to do everything we can to stop the government killing off this new industry. A campaign has started called ‘Cut, Don’t Kill’ Our Solar Future and it needs everyone in the industry to support it. There are support materials, such as letter templates for writing to your local MPs and regular news updates. There will be a Day of Action announced shortly where everyone in this industry will be encouraged to march on Downing Street, where a petition will be handed to the Prime Minister. See the web link for full details http://www.oursolarfuture.org.uk/

By Chris Witte, Kingspan

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