Government plans to cut subsidies for homes with solar panels will cause “irreparable damage” to Britain's community energy sector, sustainability experts have warned.
Proposals to reduce Feed-in Tariff subsidies by 87 per cent have been detailed in a Department of Energy and Climate Change consultation document, released last month.
Ministers are planning to reduce the tariff for small scale installations from 12.47p per kilowatt hour to 1.63p per kilowatt hour from January.
It has been reported that nearly one million schools, households and communities will no longer be able to install solar panels if the proposed changes go ahead.
The proposal is one of a series of reductions announced in August as the Government reduced support for a range of small-scale renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and hydro power.
Sustainability organisations and businesses have now called for the government to provide a clear commitment to save the community energy sector in the UK, as a warning was issued about the impact of the cuts in FITs.
Solar panels around the world
Solar panels around the world
Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the Chint Group office building in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
On 13 October 2011 France launched its largest-ever solar energy farm, with an array of panels spread over about 200 hectares (500 acres) in the mountainous southern Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region in Les Mees. With a production capacity of 90 megawatts, the vast photovoltaic park features nearly 113,000 solar panels and was built at a cost of 110 million euros ($137 million)
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Solar Panels, Photovoltaic array at the University of New Mexico, Taos campus, USA
Large solar panels are seen in a solar power plant in Hami, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region
Some of the panels of France's biggest photovoltaic power station in Bordeaux. This station, with its 60.000 panels set on the parking of the Bordeaux-Lac international fair was launched in May 2012
Built on a former NATO base, this is one of the most important photovoltaic plant in France, located at Crucey near Chartres. It was developed by electricity provider EDF (Electricite de France)
The project manager from solar century walks between lines of solar panels erected at Weighbridge, Wheal Jane, Baldhu near Truro, England. Launched in 2011, this was the first solar farm in the South West and biggest in the UK
A worker climbs over a solar panel at a solar factory in Longyou county, Zhejiang province
Workers install solar panels containing photovoltaic cells at the new Solarpark Eggersdorf solar park in 2012 near Muencheberg, Germany. The park, which was being built by German solar energy operator juwi Solar GmbH and contains 85,000 solar modules and is one of many similar projects in eastern Germany
In 2010 homeowners had solar panels installed this month as growing numbers of people and companies look to cash in on the Government's renewable energy scheme
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In 2009 a solar panel system was installed on the roof of a business building in Gainesville, Florida. Gainesville became the first city in the nation to have a solar feed-in tariff ordinance which meant owners of new solar photovoltaic systems were eligible to receive 32 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity produced by the system over the next 20 years
Howard Johns, founder of the first community owned PV power station in the UK, said: “The Government's latest proposals to cut the Feed in Tariffs will as currently suggested do irreparable damage to Britain's rapidly expanding renewable energy industry.
“In particular, many groups of hard working people striving with their neighbours and friends to develop and build local renewable energy systems will be stopped in their tracks at the eleventh hour by these careless proposals.”
The Feed-in Tariffs scheme was introduced in 2010 as part of a range of initiatives to encourage renewable energy across the UK.
The warning comes as 650 delegates from 72 countries attended the International Permaculture Conference in London this week.
Emma Bridge, CEO of Community Energy England, said: “If the Government's community energy strategy launched in January 2014 is to be worth the paper it is written on, then the Government must retain workable incentives that support the community energy sector.”
Adrian Ramsay, CEO of The Centre for Alternative Technology, said: “We know that it is technically possible by 2030 for the UK to create a prosperous economy that generates zero carbon emissions by putting a major focus on energy efficiency measures and by using 100% renewable energy. It is paramount in this year of key climate negotiations that the UK government shows initiative and leadership to deliver this crucial objective.”
A DECC spokesperson told The Independent: "We’re taking urgent action to address the projected overspend on subsidies for renewables and protect bill payers.
"Government support has driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly. As costs continue to fall and we move towards sustainable electricity investment, it becomes easier for parts of the renewables industry to survive without subsidies. We do not consider it appropriate to enable projects to lock into tariffs which, on the evidence of the Feed-In Tariff Review, offer poor value for money paid for via our energy bills."