Solar power industry set to lock horns with state

Britain's fledgling solar power industry is gearing up for a fight over the Government's review of the solar subsidies scheme.

The consultation setting out how the Government proposes to change the "feed-in tariff" (FIT) system for solar arrays producing 50 kilowatts (kW) or more of power could be published as early as this week. And green energy companies and pressure groups are expecting bad news.

The review was announced by the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, last month. The Government says the plan to cut subsidies for large-scale solar installations will avoid commercial "farms" hogging funding and squeezing out the domestic market for which the support was intended. But solar experts say the analysis is faulty – that there are barely any plans for commercial-scale "farms", that the 50kW ceiling also catches out community projects such as hospitals and housing associations, and that the lack of support from government will put the brakes on much-needed investment.

More serious still is the charge that the Department of Energy and Climate Change does not understand the economics of solar power and does not have the expertise for a valid analysis of the market.

"We are getting ready for a major fight," said one industry insider. "The Government is fundamentally wrong about the technology and they haven't understood it."

The lower bands of the FIT subsidy system – applying to solar generating capacity of up to 4kW, 4kW of domestic PV and 4 to 10 kW – will be assessed in a second, so-called "comprehensive review" further in the future. But the re-evaluation of the subsidies for 50kW and above is to be pushed through in time for changes to be applied this summer. Currently, the FIT pays out 31p per kW/hr in the 10 to 100kW band, and 29p per kW/hr in the 100kW to 5 megawatt band.

Last week a solar industry campaign warned that 30,000 green jobs are under threat from the cuts to the FIT. Jeremy Leggett, executive chairman of Solarcentury, said: "It beggars belief that a government elected on a promise of being the 'greenest ever' should be rushing to cut the solar PV tariff and kill off one of its very few employment success stories."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border