UK: IMS believes government favoring nuclear over solar

The government’s recent proposals to cut tariffs by up to 70 percent has led research company IMS to question the future of the UK’s emerging solar sector.

The industry in general has reacted strongly to the news announced on March 18, with many believing that if the cuts are implemented, photovoltaic installations over 50 kilowatts in size will no longer be economically viable.

While the government has justified the move by stating that the cuts are needed, in order to stem uncontrollable growth and ensure that residential customers in particular can benefit from the incentive scheme, many believe, as Ray Noble from the Renewable Energy Association so eloquently stated, that it will simply "strangle the industry at birth".

IMS Research has gone one further and implied that the move has unveiled the government’s true agenda, i.e. a stronger emphasis on nuclear.

In a statement released, it argues that the changes, if adopted, would rule out industrial photovoltaic applications in the future. It adds that the experts at IMS believe that large-scale installations, "which often drive economies in a market", are unlikely to be developed, thus resulting in prices for photovoltaic schemes remaining high.

Underlining its lack of commitment, IMS cites the fact that the government recently cancelled the installation of its own photovoltaic power scheme.

Furthermore, the research company says that there are signs that the UK solar industry is in danger of losing valuable jobs, as it "appears to turn its back on renewable energy". This, it says, contrasts sharply with Germany’s solar industry, where the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) says 83,000 jobs have been created.

Ash Sharma, Research Director for IMS Research’s Power & Energy Group comments: "Effectively making solar energy uneconomic for commercial organisations demonstrates the Government’s lack of commitment to renewable sources. It also has an implication for the management of public buildings, such as hospitals and schools, for whom solar power will no longer be financially viable."

He continues: "Limiting solar power to small scale installations means the sector will simply never take off, other than creating a niche industry. And while countries such as Japan, Italy, Germany, China and the U.S. have said that they will be giving greater financial support to solar power and already have substantial solar PV capacity in place, the UK government has taken the opposite approach, making it clear that nuclear energy is definitely part of the plan for power generation in the UK."