How to put solar in the shade
Energy is not really my bag (unless it happens to stem from waste), but I do know a debacle when I see one â€“ and today's solar feed-in tariff announcement from DECC (October 31) must rate as one of the finest, messiest, government muddles yet in trying to steer a clear and cohesive climate change strategy.Â
Is it just me, or is this coalition, to put it mildly, somewhat daft. I mean, it can't even get simple dates right. Why launch a consultation that will end later than its proposed subsidy level cut-off date? And hey, lets really confuse everyone by saying the cut-off date is up for consultation as well.
It could almost be a comedy sketch – if it wasn't so tragic. As a result of this fast-track consultation, the subsidy for solar power is to be cut in half for new home-owner installations from December 12. The industry behind this form of renewable energy – solar panel makers and installers – fear the move will cost thousands of jobs.
Most seem worried about the pace of change, the fallout from such a sudden shift in direction. Smaller firms are likely to feel it most, as usual. Some could even be put out of business. It could also destroy consumer confidence in the solar market.
Understandably, there is a lot of anger out there. But long term, what will this mean? Well, manufacturers will be forced to cut their high removeds – according to one major solar player, this will be a good thing as it will discourage the more unethical firms out there just in it for a quick buck.
And as solar panels become more efficient and production costs fall, this should eventually feed through to the consumer, making solar more accessible to the homeowner. So there may be some flickers of optimism on the horizon. That said, it has been a shambolic ministerial state of affairs.
Enough said. I'll get back to my waste desk now.
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