Nearly one million households, communities and schools will no longer be able to install solar panels on their rooftops after the Government cut subsidies by 87 per cent.
The change, to be introduced in January, will reduce the amount paid for solar electricity from 12.92p per kilowatt hour to just 1.63p – amounting to a £3,840 cut in payments for a typical 4kW system over the 20 years of the subsidy contract.
The cuts will not apply to solar panels that have already been installed, for which the payments have been fixed, but all new installations will be affected from next year.
The solar subsidy cut is one of a series of reductions announced yesterday as the Government reduced support for a range of small-scale renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and hydro power.
“From California to China, the world is reaping the benefits of a solar revolution, yet incredibly in the UK David Cameron is actually trying to shut rooftop solar down,” said Friends of the Earth campaigner Alasdair Cameron.
“These absurd solar cuts will send UK energy policy massively in the wrong direction and prevent almost a million homes, schools and hospitals from plugging in to clean, renewable energy,” he added.
The Government conceded that as many as 958,000 fewer parties would be able to afford to install renewable power devices in the next five years as a result of the cuts, with solar panels expected to make up the vast majority of the casualties.
But it said the cuts were necessary because spending on renewable energy schemes was running over budget and the only alternative would be to end generation tariffs for new applicants altogether.
“Our 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,” a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said.
But opponents to the change say the costs of solar power are unlikely to come down to the point where they don’t need subsidies for another five years and argue that effectively pulling the plug on support could be hugely damaging to the industry’s development.
Mike Landy, head of policy at the Solar Trade Association, added: “This is the antithesis of a sensible policy for achieving better public value for money while safeguarding the British solar industry.”
The latest cuts come after the Government announced plans to abolish new subsidies for onshore wind farms and solar parks as it looks to keep a lid on renewable energy subsidies.
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