UK’s energy department officials under fire as political opposition to FiT proposals mounts

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

UK energy secretary Amber Rudd and minister Andrea Leadsom have faced mounting pressure to revisit highly contentious feed-in tariff proposals as Members of Parliament (MPs) across the UK’s political parties criticised the plans.

Rudd and Leadsom spoke at this morning’s oral and topical questions session, the first since parliament’s summer recess and since the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) unveiled plans to cut the small-scale feed-in tariff by 87%.

Lisa Nandy, the newly-appointed shadow energy secretary, returned from maternity leave to question how the UK had slipped out of EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractive Index’s top 10 for the first time in 12 years, claiming that the department had “no clear plan” for the UK’s energy sector. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas then weighed in by adding that the department had “taken a wrecking ball to the solar industry” with the recent policy upheaval and accused Rudd of attempting to justify the changes with waffle.

Rudd refuted both suggestions and said Lucas was “completely wrong” to suggest that the impacts of the cuts had not been taken into account before the proposals were published. She stood by her department’s assertions that it would be impossible to quantify the impact on jobs in the industry but did state that “all jobs in the sector are extremely important”.

Rudd then avoided a difficult line in questioning from Labour MP Ian Lucas who quizzed the secretary on how much the government is paying to solar businesses in damages following successful legal challenges to policy decisions between 2011 and 2012. Lucas said the Conservatives “have form in chaotic solar consultations” and indicated this one was no different.

Both Rudd and Leadsom were continually pushed to justify the proposals by various Labour and Scottish National Party MPs, however members of their own backbench also contributed to the criticism for the first time. Conservative MP Julian Stroud suggested that a “more tapered” degression would have been more appropriate for the solar industry and that the current plans would only result in a “rash of new applications”.

In what could constitute a softening of language from the secretary, Rudd said it was “too early to say what the outcome of the consultation will be” and that the department was “determined to identify the right level of solar subsidies to continue growth”.

It’s the second time in as many days that Conservative MPs have voiced concern over their own party’s actions in relation to the feed-in tariff after Mayor of London and MP for Uxbridge Boris Johnson spoke of his concern for the cuts and their impact on investor confidence during Mayor’s Question Time yesterday afternoon.

It has also been revealed that SNP MP and energy and climate change select committee chair Angus MacNeil addressed Amber Rudd last week to request a minister from within DECC appear before the committee to discuss this summer's policy announcements prior to the conference recess during the first two weeks of October, citing the committee's “dismay” over the proposals and “disappointment” that they were timed for two days after the House of Commons rose for summer recess.

Criticism of the proposals has continued to pile up from British industry. A joint letter to the secretary brokered by environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth and published this morning was signed by various stakeholders and multinational organisations such as Panasonic and DuPont, calling on the government to “urgently reconsider” the proposed cuts.

The UK's Solar Trade Association (STA) is amongst the signees and Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the STA, said: “The Government's proposals for British solar are extreme and they are damaging for both the industry and for consumers. Solar puts people and communities in control and the Government should back that – not take power from the people. It doesn't have to be like this, so we are reassured that so many organisations, from all walks of life, are joining our call for a rethink.”

“It is quite wrong to suggest we cannot afford to go solar. The truth is we cannot afford not to. It's hard to think of a greater waste of public money than building up a strong British solar industry, hailed by the Prime Minister as a success, and then pushing it over a cliff before it is ready to fly,” she added.

19 August 2021
The utility-scale PV market is poised for exponential growth and yet the industry still has many fundamental opportunities to improve on standards and best practice. Tracker shade loss has been one of those topics that deserve more attention, but has been typically handled by derate factors rather than trying to accurately forecast the loss over the life of the system. Join Nextracker’s subject matter experts, Aron Dobos and Neelesh Umachandran, and Rounak Kharait, director of solar energy assessments at DNV, for a webinar about why shade modeling matters and recommendations on what the solar industry should do about it.
25 August 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.
25 August 2021
The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste takes place in Fortaleza, Brazil. It addresses leading local and international experts on solar power and renewable energy in the region. The Summit’s mission is to provide in-depth education, enable high-quality networking opportunities, expand the use of PV technologies at regional and national level and strengthen the local PV industry. The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste is organized by Intersolar South America - Latin America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry: Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim, Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI) and Aranda Eventos & Congressos Ltda, São Paulo as co-organizer.
25 August 2021
Join us to hear directly from the CTOs and heads-of-research from the top-20 cell/wafer producers to the PV industry today. The event will focus on predicting the key metrics underpinning the next big shift to n-type with answers to the key questions: When will the transition to n-type happen? Which companies will be first to 10 GW capacity and production? Who will be the key equipment suppliers for the new production lines? Which n-type process flow/architecture will emerge as the front-runner? What will polysilicon purity and wafer thickness levels look like for optimized n-type manufacturing? What will the upstream poly/wafer supply-chain look like in 5 years from now?
26 August 2021
In this webinar, JA Solar will present its product portfolio based on the latest technologies to improve your PV projects, ensuring maximum reliability and performance. During the webinar we will receive insight from JA Solar about its solar technology roadmap and how the manufacturer is providing customers with innovative solutions to suit their needs, while we will also analyse how to determine the best product solution for each solar project.
6 September 2021
The 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition will be held online from 6 - 10 September 2021, allowing PV experts from all around the globe to participate with just one click! The EU PVSEC is the world's leading forum for PV Research and Development and the biggest Conference on PV Solar Energy worldwide. That is why PV experts from all around the globe are keen on gathering together each year to be part of this specialist’s event, to present and discuss the latest developments in Photovoltaics, to network and to conduct business.

Read Next

August 2, 2021
Legislation that would increase and extend the US’ residential solar investment tax credit has secured the backing of a host of solar companies and non-profits.
August 2, 2021
Spanish oil and gas major Repsol has increased its renewable energy target from 5.2GW to 6GW and its Low Carbon generation objective from 7.5GW to 8.3 GW by 2025 after posting strong financial results for Q2 which saw the company largely return to pre-pandemic levels
August 2, 2021
First Solar has lowered its earnings and module shipment guidance for 2021 as the company continues to anticipate elevated shipping costs for the remainder of the year.
August 2, 2021
The amount of solar installed in the US in 2020 was 4000% higher than was installed in 2010, with 8,894MW of utility-scale solar projects being added, as corporate demand becomes almost on par with utilities
PV Tech Premium
August 2, 2021
In today’s installment of PV Tech’s ‘European solar under the spotlight’ feature, we assess the potential and key drivers behind Europe’s leading markets in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
PV Tech Premium
July 30, 2021
Not only will solar be the dominant source of new power generation in Europe by 2025, cementing its position as the third largest market for solar globally, but the continent has placed the asset class at the very heart of its COVID-19 recovery strategy. As part of a week-long special report on PV Tech Premium, Liam Stoker, Edith Hancock and Jules Scully explore the drivers for solar in Europe, the key markets and the challenges that remain.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
August 19, 2021
At 9am (PT) | 6pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
August 25, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021