Hundreds of solar firm bosses have called on the Prime Minister to freeze cuts to subsidies for solar electricity or risk killing off the solar industry for good.
In a letter sent to David Cameron
on Friday, top executives of more than 400 solar
firms and trade bodies have asked the Prime Minister to intervene to stop cuts to the Feed-in Tariff
(FiT) which the Government is planning to impose in July. The signatories of the letter include the bosses of leading firms such as Solarcentury, Kingspan and Orta Solar, and chief executives of trade bodies the Federation of Master Builders, National Federation of Roofing Contractors and the Electrical Contractors Association. They are warning that the solar industry is already in "meltdown" and that a freeze on further cuts is "imperative" to save the industry.
The letter, which has been coordinated by the Cut, Don’t Kill solar campaign, says: "The Department of Energy and Climate Change is currently consulting on a further round of cuts to FITs, effective from July. If this new reduction is implemented, the tariff will have reduced by as much as 69 per cent in the space of three months.
"We urge you in the strongest possible terms to intervene and freeze any further cuts."
FiTs: "Knee-jerk changes"
The letter argues that the industry is still reeling from as "series of unsettling knee-jerk changes to FiTs" and that "its future has been jeopardised by the Department for Energy and Climate Change's mishandling" of the FiTs.
"Overnight on 3rd March, the tariff was slashed by more than half from 43 pence per kilowatt hour to 21 pence per kilowatt hour.
"Not only was the cut itself significant, the process through which it was handled was disappointing. The Department for Energy and Climate Change’s track-record since October includes one illegal cut, two appeals to the courts, three consultations and two Feed-in Tariff scheme changes following shortened consultations.
"All of this has undermined public confidence in the future of solar electricity. Panel installation rates were roughly half in April this year to that of a year ago. Indeed, the rate has nose-dived to such an extent that it would now take another 160 years to deliver the amount of solar energy that the Government claims it wants to generate by 2020."
The letter also warns that the Government will fail to meet its target of generating 22 GW of solar by 2020 if further cuts are imposed. "Put simply, there is no chance of meeting this goal if further cuts are made," the letter reads.
In March, the Coalition Government slashed the FiT rate for installations of four kilowatt and and below in size from 43.3 pence to 21 pence per kilowatt hour. The Government is currently consulting on further cuts to be imposed in July, which could see the rate drop between 13.6 pence and 16.5 pence. Further reductions are being considered for October.
Solar industry contraction
released last month by the Cut Don’t Kill Campaign show that UK's solar industry has contracted by 25 per cent and that 93 per cent of solar installation companies are now worried about their future. Over 40 per cent of companies said they would be making redundancies in the coming months.
Carillion, the support services and construction firm, confirmed yesterday that it had made 1,400 redundancies in its energy services division since the Government announced plans to cut the Feed-in Tariff rate.
"The industry is in meltdown," Howard Johns, spokersperson for the Cut Don’t Kill Campaign and founder of Southern Solar told GreenWise. "When you add it up, we’ve seen less than one installation per company during the month of April. We are asking for a freeze on July cuts so the industry can recover."
The Solar Trade Association (STA) and the British Photovoltaic Association were not signatories of the letter to Cameron. This month the STA indicated that it wanted to move away from the "doom and gloom" about the solar industry and highlight the sector’s "huge success".
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