UK: Diverse group rallies behind solar industry and braces for bad news


The Solar Trade Association (STA) has rallied a diverse group of supporters including certain non-government organizations, industry and farming groups, aspects of the construction sector, social housing and community groups and trade unions to put pressure on the government ahead of their FIT fast-track review announcement.

Earlier in the week the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokesperson told pv magazine that smaller schemes will be unaffected by the review. "We support sustained growth in the solar industry and have proposed measures for consultation that will protect the FITs scheme for homes, small businesses and communities. Solar PV schemes under 50 kW are unaffected by the fast-track review."

The DECC last week announced details of their Green Deal Code, which is currently before Parliament, which will make up funding available for people to take steps to make their homes more energy efficient. These funds can then be repaid through savings on utility bills.

However, the Solar Trade Association counters that these measures and the fast-track FIT review ignores the potential of solar to rapidly become a cost effective renewable energy source. "Even mainstream analysis shows that under a stable investment framework the price of solar power will come down lower than many other energy generation options, including fossil fuels," said the STA’s photovoltaic adviser Ray Noble.

This sentiment is along similar lines to the argument made by the European Energy Council. In late May they argued for a binding European renewable energy target of 45 percent, by 2030. Key to this, said EREC’s Josche Muth to pv magazine, is the stability of government support programs, such as FIT schemes. "You need stable policy framework conditions, the dedication, incentives and support schemes and not (have them) changed or retroactively changed." Muth added, "we are in a time of tight public budgets, so we need to trigger private investments, and you need stable framework conditions."

The British Solar Trade Alliance has gathered signatures from key groups petitioning the Prime Minister David Cameron to take measures to protect the industry and back down from propsed FIT cuts. Last week they lauchend a report arguing for a long-term solar strategy that would provide British based solar jobs.

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