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Subsidy cuts could kill solar power industry

Cuts proposed by David Cameron as part of the UK government's spending review could leave the UK's flourishing solar power plans lagging behind the rest of the world, according to one industry insider.

David Hunt from renewable energy outfit Eco Environments has written an open letter to the Prime Minister blasting the ConDem coalition's plans to fast-track cuts to the feed-in tariff, which is designed to allow households and businesses selling surplus energy generated through their solar panels back to the national grid.

"The proposals will effectively sacrifice the UK’s flourishing solar industry and have already frozen investment in projects over 50kWp [kilowatts peak] which includes community projects and businesses wishing to do the right thing.

"The Coalition said it would ‘encourage community-owned renewable energy schemes where local people benefit from the power produced’. Indeed, Vince Cable told me personally at an event in Liverpool that the Government is ‘fully committed to Feed-in Tariffs’."

But the government is reneging on its promises by cutting the subsidy on installations across the board. Projects across the board will have subsidies cut by around a third, with a 50kW installation falling from 33p per kW to just 19p.

Hunt says he has been "shocked by these proposals which will once again leave the UK’s solar industry lagging far behind other countries."

And the company director thinks things are going to become much worse in the near future if the proposals are accepted.

"Unless the UK approach on solar is reconsidered, the sector could be sent into another tailspin in just 18 months. Allocated support is likely to run out for solar projects of any size, as a result of recasting the feed-in tariff as a capped mechanism in the Spending Review.

"The attack on the solar industry is particularly stupid given solar’s proven record of rapid job creation and truly exceptional reductions in cost.

"There is widespread frustration that your Government does not understand this technology or its potential. Solar is crucial to a genuinely sustainable and competitive energy system in the UK. It could easily meet a third of the UK’s electricity needs."