Green power industry claims Government backtracking on solar

While sharply rising oil prices claim attention across the world, the British Government is facing increasingly vocal criticism over a policy on solar power subsidies that critics deride as "extraordinary".

A group of more than 60 companies, trade associations and opposition politicians will today launch the "Save our Solar" (SoS) campaign, calling for ministers to reconsider recently-announced plans for a fast-track review of the "feed-in tariff" (FIT) scheme for all solar panel projects of more than 50 kilowatts (KW).

In a speech at Westminster think tank Centre Forum this afternoon, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is expected to paint a glowing picture of Britain's low-carbon future, reinforcing the Government's wholehearted and active support for green energy.

But Britain's nascent photovoltaic (PV) industry is in uproar over the FIT claiming the Government'sdecision to review the scheme less than a year after it was introduced is decimating investment, undermining plans for up to 18,000 new jobs and evidence of a growing gapbetween talk and reality.

"There is a disconnect between the rhetoric and the actions, to put itmildly," Seb Berry, the head of public affairs at SolarCentury, said. "The fall-out from the extraordinary decision to rush through a review is that it damages investor confidence, not only in the PV sector, but also inrenewable energy more widely."

The Government says the FITreview is vital to avoid large-scale solar "farms" squeezing out the domestic market . But solar companies say that setting the bar at just 50KW will catch out community schemes from schools, hospitals and housing associations. They also said FIT payments were just £6m in the nine months to January, a far cry from the projected first-year budget of £30m-£50m.

At the very least the SoS campaign wants the Government to stick to commitments made as recently as November that it would not to review the FIT earlier than the original deadline in April 2012, unless the scheme was running ahead of projections.

"There are mixed messages from the Government," said Andrew Lee, head of UK sales for Sharp Solar, which recently hired an extra 300 people for its factory in Wrexham. "One day they are standing on steps at Sharp and applauding the jobs we're creating, the next day they're cutting the tariff."

While solar is struggling for a toehold in Britain, European rivals are storming ahead. The UK is only aiming for 2.7GW of solar power by 2020, compared with 40GW in Germany, 26GW in Italy and more than 5GW in Spain. The French government last week announced that it was trebling the solar capacity eligible annually for its FIT scheme, from 500MW to 1.5GW, suggesting France may well exceed its 2020 target of 5.4GW.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas