Mayor Boris backs 'gentler' cuts to Feed-in Tariff
London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for a gradual reduction of solar subsidies rather than the 'cliff edge' cuts suggested by the Government.
In his response to the Feed-in Tariff consulation which ended today, Johnson said that the current proposals created great uncertainty in the industry, threatening more than 3,000 jobs in London and affecting his energy efficiency programmes.
Writing on behalf of the Mayor’s office, deputy mayor for environmental and energy Matthew Pencharz said: “The Mayors view is that in order to ensure an orderly transition to a subsidy-free solar PV industry, there should be a gradual tapering of the FIT over a 2-3 year period.”
Earlier today, the London Assembly Environment Committee called on Mayor Boris Johnson to join the growing campaign against the Government's proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FiT).
The Committee – an elected body which holds the Mayor to account on environmental issues – released a new report on Friday titled Bring me sunshine! How London’s homes could generate more solar energy.
The report explores why London isn’t meeting its potential for producing solar power and considers the impact of the Government’s proposed changes to the FiT, which could cut subsidies by 87%.
London has the lowest relative level of installed solar power capacity in the UK yet the Greater London Authority (GLA) estimates that 50% of roofs in London are suitable for solar PV panels.
The report’s recommendations included a call for the Mayor to lobby Government for “greater stability in solar PV policy and gradual, predictable reductions in subsidies”.
The report also recommended new legislation whereby any major developments that are suitable for solar panels, would have to have them included in the design.
Environment Committee chair Darren Johnson said: “Our report demonstrates the many benefits to the capital of increasing our capacity to generate domestic solar power. Homeowners and communities – some of whom may be experiencing fuel poverty – can save money through lower bills and benefit from the all-important Feed-In Tariff.
We’ve seen this week the impact of solar power on London’s economy, with reports that job losses could be in the thousands should the changes to the FiT go ahead.
“This serves to highlight that growth in the capital’s green energy sector would create jobs and skills for many Londoners.
“The environmental benefits are also not to be overlooked, as an increase in domestic solar power will ultimately contribute to climate stability, which affects us all. Whilst we appreciate that there are limitations, our report recognises that both the current and incoming Mayor have a significant role to play.”
In 2011, Johnson set a target to generate 25% of London’s energy through local and renewable sources.
The report was welcomed by the solar industry, which has launched a flurry of campaigns as the consultation draws to a close at 11.45pm on Friday.
Responding to the London Assembly report, the Solar Trade Association’s (STA) head of external affairs Leonie Greene said: "London has been the laggard of the UK on solar - but London is a world city that already boasts some stunning solar schemes, so it should be an international leader in this technology.
“We are therefore relieved to see the Environment Committee recommend that the Greater London Authority adopts levels of ambition aligned with our Solar Independence Plan, which would double solar capacity across the UK over the next five years.”
“Unfortunately ambitions for solar in London are under threat. The Committee is quite right to highlight that Government's current extreme proposals for solar could scupper attempts to drag London up from its low performance today.
“Helpfully, Mayor Boris Johnson has voiced his concern and we hope he will support our efforts to find a solution that enables solar to take-off across the capital.”
Earlier this week, the STA launched a plan to ‘save the solar industry’ by adding just £1 to an average household bill over the next three years.
A separate report from utility company Good Energy claimed 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.