Anger as sun sets on government solar energy funding

Renewable energy companies have described a government decision to freeze subsidies for solar energy as a "disaster".

The Renewable Energy Association (REA), the UK's largest renewables industry body, voiced its "astonishment" after the government announced the Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) funding stream for solar power - the most popular technology - had run out.

It claims there is money to spare in the wider programme.

Philip Wolfe, REA director general, said this month: "This latest disaster in the Low Carbon buildings Programme is completely at odds with the Green New Deal we hear so much about.

"We are talking about relatively small sums to support UK manufacturing, technological innovation and local jobs. This is an industry with a very bright future and a key contributor to the low carbon future we are aiming for."

No applications for LCBP Stream 2 funding for solar projects have been allowed since February 26, when the extra seven million allocated to the scheme last December to tide it over until it ends in June was used up.

The REA says 12 to 15 million remains in the wider building programme budget and predicts around eight million will be left when it ends.

It wants the cash reallocated on a first come first serve basis but claims the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has said the programme will not be extended and any funds instead sent back to the treasury.

But the DECC says no definite decision has yet been made about the money in the LCBP budget.

A spokesman said: "We recognize that the popularity of the low carbon buildings programme has led to an over-subscription in solar PV applications. We are discussing with industry what options are open to us to address this.

"From 1 April people who install small-scale energy equipment like solar panels or wind turbines will be able to claim double the financial support through the renewables obligation and from April next year we will introduce a new system of guaranteed cash payments."

The REA, which has almost 600 members, says it warned the DECC about the funding gap in early February and is surprised nothing was done to stop it running out.

It wants tariffs - fixed payments for renewable energy generation - introduced "as soon as possible" to boost renewable energy production warning that otherwise the photovoltaic industry is at risk.

"The end of the LCBP will leave many REA members in limbo with no funding as the recession bits," the REA said.

"It is imperative that the tariffs are implemented as soon as possible and that the renewable electricity and heat tariffs are introduced together by 2010 at the latest. Otherwise the industry is looking at a serious funding gap and contraction as some firms are unable to stay afloat."

David Gibbs


| renewables


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