'Only wealthiest will be able to afford solar panels'
Solar and wind power will be unaffordable to all but the "wealthiest homes" it was claimed yesterday after the Government cut the maximum grant for their installation by 83 per cent.
In a move that prompted warnings of job losses in the renewable power industry, the Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling disclosed yesterday that householders installing green energy would be able to make a total claim of £2,500. Previously, they had been able to apply for a grant of £15,000; comprised of £10,000 for a PV solar panel system and £5,000 for a wind turbine.
The sharp cut was criticised for conflicting with Labour's commitment to a low-carbon economy. Demand had been so high for the Low Carbon Buildings Programme that its monthly allocation of money was taken up within minutes, prompting the suspension of the scheme in March.
In the latest controversy to hit the scheme, Mr Darling announced it would be restarted at the end of this month without the monthly cap on applications. But it emerged the maximum household grant would be capped at £2,500. The cuts come despite Gordon Brown raising funding for the scheme by 50 per cent to £18m at the last Budget.
Mr Darling said the renewable power industry had "tremendous potential" in the low-carbon economy. He added: "This grant scheme is designed to maximise carbon savings, demonstrate potential and help the sector become more commercially competitive in the long term."
But environmentalists and the microgeneration industry were furious. Both warn that Britain lags far behind other European countries on renewable power. Dave Timms, the economics campaigner for Friends of the Earth, described the modified grant scheme yesterday as, "woefully inadequate".
He said: "The public want to cut their emissions but the Government has failed to provide the funding to help them do this."
The Renewable Energy Association estimated that the cost to the customer of an average solar photovoltaic system would soar by more than 60 per cent.
Philip Wolfe, the chief executive, said: "While it is good news that the programme will be back up and running, this scale-back makes a nonsense of the extra funds from the Chancellor and of the Government's ambition to bring on-site power to the people."
He said from now on the cap meant renewable electricity would be unaffordable to, "all but the wealthiest households".
From the blogs
Justice, the bedrock of our society is for sale under the Government’s latest plan to sell legal aid...
Take inspiration from the green-fingered brigade who have been showing off their creativity at the R...
There are more empty shops on our high streets than ever before, says another report into the state ...
The guard has changed at Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years. Meanwhile, down the road, the ...
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.