£1 solar rescue plan gets cross-party backing
A plan to 'save the solar industry' by adding £1 on to consumer bills has received support from a cross-party coalition of 30 MPs.
The plan, proposed by the Solar Trade Association, would significantly reduce the cuts suggested by the Government in its consultation on the Feed-in Tariff.
The review, which will close on Friday 23 October, seeks to reduce subsidies for small-scale solar to around £7m over the next three years.
The STA is instead asking for £95m over the next three years, equivalent to an extra £1 a year on average household energy bills from 2019.
Specifically, the STA’s proposal calls for higher tariffs than those proposed by Government, with higher and more flexible caps on the total amount of solar that can be deployed and an improved mechanism to continually bring support levels down.
In return, the industry said it can deliver enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 875,000 homes. The STA also claims the plan would allow the solar industry to become subsidy-free and preserve up to 20,000 jobs.
The proposals garnered cross-party support from over 30 MPs yesterday at an action day outside the House of Commons including Sir David Amess (Con), Caroline Flint (Lab), Caroline Lucas (Green), Callum McCaig (SNP) and Tom Brake MP (Lib Dem).
STA head of external affairs Leonie Greene said:“This emergency plan represents a compromise agreement which, given the current crisis, aims to find a way forward that is acceptable for both the Government and the solar industry.”
“The fact that this plan costs just £1 per household shows just how affordable it could be to adopt steady, gradual reductions in support for solar.”
“Solar is close to grid parity, but it is not there yet. The Government’s 98% cut in the overall budget for solar would derail the industry at the last hurdle and waste the millions of public investment in solar to date.”
The Government has stated that the cuts are needed to protect consumer bills from an over-deployment of solar energy.
Earlier this week utility company Good Energy published a report showing that solar and wind generation is already helping to reduce wholesale electricity costs with a reduction of £1.55bn on power prices in 2014, thereby offsetting much of the cost of supporting the renewable technologies.
The proposed cuts have also dealt a heavy blow to investor confidence in the market, with three solar businesses, Mark Group, Climate Energy and Southern Solar, having already gone into administration over the last few weeks making over 1,200 people across the country redundant.
The STA has estimated that up to 27,000 jobs in the solar sector and its supply chain could be at risk if the proposed reductions in tariffs go ahead.