UK: Committee of MPs writes to Energy Secretary criticizing solar cuts

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Despite securing a smattering of relatively positive headlines for its apparent retreat from the introduction of severe solar FIT cuts, the U.K. government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has nevertheless come in for stiff criticism from throughout Parliament for pushing through a 64% FIT reduction and an investment cap on renewable spending.

A letter sent by the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee of MPs to energy secretary Amber Rudd has attacked DECC’s inconsistent stance on support for renewable subsidies, attacking the lack of "clarity, consistency and continuity" in government policy on the matter since the Conservatives came to power in May.

The letter said that the energy department "appears to be making unexpected policy decisions that are being criticized routinely in our evidence sessions as being exactly the opposite."

In a meeting with solar investors, the committee learned that investors have been deterred from the renewable energy markets of countries such as Spain and Italy for similar reasons, namely unstable support schemes. A disturbed renewables market is an unattractive one, the committee was told.

In examining DECC’s expenditure, administration and policy, the committee has also warned that the U.K. will find it difficult to hit its pledged climate targets if investment in renewables continues to slow at the pace seen this year. Further cuts will prove additionally injurious to investor confidence, the committee added.

The announcements on Thursday are likely to lead to between 15,000 to 23,000 job losses in the solar industry alone by 2019.

In response to the growing criticism, a DECC spokeswoman trotted out its rather tried-and-tested stock statement, which read: "The government continues to support the low-carbon sector but for this to be sustainable it needs to be driven by competition and innovation, not subsidies."