Lack of Government support harming future of UK solar industry, claims STA report

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The UK Government is not providing enough support for its rapidly growing solar industry, according to a new report from the country’s Solar Trade Association (STA). Findings from the STA report claim inadequate backing from Whitehall is clipping the sectors wings in its infancy and preventing it from realising its full potential.

The report, titled the Alternative Solar Revolution, suggests the coalition Government re-evaluate its solar policy and double investment in the industry to £1.2 billion in the next four years – a move that could result in the creation of 140,000 jobs by 2015 and a further 220,000 by end of 2020. However, in a surprise move, the STA has also come out in support of the Government’s proposed subsidy reductions; it has proposed an industry-wide cut of 25%, as opposed to the suggested 40-70% cut for projects in excess of 50kW.

“The Government has got it wrong on solar. We are on the cusp of a global solar revolution, major markets all over the world recognize that solar energy is critical to our future,” Howard Johns, chairman of Solar Trade Association, claims. “Germany plans to generate 50% of its day time electricity from solar by 2020 – their targets are for 52GW of solar energy compared to 2.7GW for the UK by 2020. Community projects have been devastated by government decision making on solar.

“We recognise that solar is a dynamic and fast-moving technology which needs regular appraisals in a complex context with specialists.  We are keen and willing to work with the Government to set realistic targets and to help maximise the benefits and to understand the true potential for solar.”

Solar has the potential to cater for in excess of 30% of the UK’s electricity requirements by 2040 and to help prevent the UK Government’s spending cuts curtailing the fledgling industry’s growth, a campaign, supported by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, calling for a solar revolution in the UK has been set up. “We are launching ‘Solar Needs You’, calling on individuals, NGOs, communities and businesses to put pressure on the Government to re-think solar and to invest to build a sector that is good for people, communities, businesses, with huge environmental and costs benefits, and additional growth in jobs and manufacturing – which has to be good for the British economy,” Johns said.

Within the next week, the Government is due to announce its final verdict on the proposed cuts for large-scale solar installations. To date, ministers have maintained that the severe cuts are necessary, and will still go ahead.

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