Government plans to cut support for Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) that help to support the development of solar energy in Britain would see the standard FIT reduced from 12.47p/kWh (the rate that was due to take effect from October 1 2015) to 1.63p/kWh from January 1 2016. This is an 87 per cent reduction in the rate for small installations. It is also 96 per cent lower than the original tariff of 43p/kWh established by the previous Labour government when the FIT scheme came into operation in April 2010.
I support the development of renewable power generation and I am proud of the previous Labour government’s strong record in this area. The previous Labour government doubled the UK’s renewable energy capacity and introduced the Feed-in Tariff scheme to incentivise and reward people for investing in low carbon, renewable energy. The scheme has been very successful. Indeed, the current government states that 700,000 installations registered for the scheme during its first five years up to April 2015.
Ultimately, renewables should move towards being free of subsidy, but the Feed-in-Tariff can only be reduced in an orderly fashion without damaging the solar energy industry. The speed and scale of the Coalition government’s cuts during the last Parliament and the very significant cuts being proposed by the current government are likely to cost jobs and investment in the green economy.
Despite promising to unleash a solar revolution, the current government has undermined solar energy, which is one of the cheapest forms of clean energy. The UK has fallen behind France, India and Japan in terms of renewable energy investment attractiveness.
As the former shadow minister for energy and climate change, I am also concerned that the inevitable uncertainty across the renewables sector will undermine the UK’s ability to meet its climate change commitments, and that by hampering the development of cheap forms of clean energy, consumer bills will rise rather than fall.
Prior to the election, my Shadow Frontbench colleagues committed to work with the solar industry to provide the stable environment it needs in order to thrive.
I hope the current government will listen to the very serious concerns that have been raised by the solar industry and organisations such as Friends of the Earth.
I will continue to press the government to rethink its approach to solar energy.