Ministers accused of mishandling solar subsidy cuts.. again

Greg Barker confirms DECC is considering delaying latest round of cuts to feed-in tariff as industry accuses government of missing parliamentary deadline

17 May 2012

Imminent cuts to solar incentives could be delayed after the government allegedly missed a parliamentary deadline to confirm the next wave of reductions to the popular feed-in tariff scheme.
The government had been expected to confirm further cuts to the tariffs by early May with a view to the changes coming into effect from 1 July.

But Climate Change Minister Greg Barker yesterday confirmed it was now considering delaying the plans. “Having listened carefully to industry, we are looking at scope for pushing back a little the next proposed reduction in solar feed-in tariffs,” he wrote on Twitter.
However, according to sources in the solar industry the government this week missed the deadline required to provide 40 days’ notice to Parliament ahead of any changes to the scheme. As a result ministers would have to delay cuts until mid-July at the earliest or else risk a legal challenge from businesses.
The news is likely to fuel hopes that the government will hold off from making further cuts until the market picks up. Recent installation figures show demand collapsed after the government changed the rules governing the scheme and halved the level of incentives available from April 1.
The latest figures show the number of installations dropped to 912 in the week ending 13 May, creating around 4MW of capacity – a huge reduction on the tens of thousands of installations undertaken during February and March.
Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint will today call on DECC ministers to delay the latest round of planned cuts, warning such a move could derail DECC’s new ambition to deploy 22GW of solar capacity in the UK by 2020.
Total installed capacity for the past four weeks was 17MW, against a four-weekly average of 71MW over the past year. Labour believes it would now take 169 years to reach 22GW of solar under the current deployment rates.
The Solar Trade Association (STA) has also requested a meeting with Barker to discuss ways to revive the stagnating market and has urged the government to delay the planned cuts.
“We are facing an unusual set of challenges right now and it is fundamentally a problem of confidence and perception,” said Alan Aldridge, STA chairman. “We need all champions of solar – in government, industry and elsewhere – to help us get the message out that solar is still a great investment, particularly with energy bills on the rise again.
“But we also need government to show real sensitivity to the current situation and work with us to create a stable and growing market.”


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