2,580 solar jobs at risk from subsidy cuts

The solar industry is facing meltdown due to planned subsidy cuts
The solar industry is facing meltdown due to planned subsidy cuts

More than 2,500 jobs in the solar panel industry in Yorkshire and Humber could be lost if the Government slashes a key subsidy by 87 per cent.

The Solar Trade Association claims 2,580 of 3,230 jobs in the sector are threatened by a proposed cut to the feed-in-tariff, which pays residential customers per unit of electricity generated.

Nationally, some 27,000 people employed in the solar energy sector and its supply chain are under threat, it claims.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change is proposing to cut the tariff paid for electricity generated by rooftop panels from 12.4p to 1.6p in January.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “The government’s short-term thinking on bills is also condemning hardworking families to a future of higher energy costs.

“Within these new proposals, the Government has used sunlight levels you might find in Devon, rather than those found in Yorkshire as they have done in the past.

“The Solar Trade Association believes more than just one corner of the country should be able to get the benefits of going solar.”

Across Yorkshire and Humberside there are 58,809 solar homes and 1,649 big solar rooftops on schools, warehouses and other commercial buildings.

But many fear the huge subsidy cut will virtually shut down schemes on social housing, schools and community centres.

They have been able to take out loans to install systems ‘free’ by making repayments from a combination of feed-in-tariff cash and savings on energy bills. Investors have been happy to lend money thanks to returns of up to 15 per cent.

An alliance of organisations including the National Farmers Union, the Confederation of British Industry, social housing providers and local authorities have urged the government to “urgently reconsider” the proposal.

Meanwhile, a planned 70 per cent cut in subsidy for commercial systems has sparked a stampede from firms trying to have systems fitted before January.