It is shameful that this government is resisting a solar revolution

This article was posted by Leonie Greene on on 14th June 2011. To read the full article, please click here.

You report that “subsidies for large-scale photovoltaic installations are to be cut drastically” (Solar power industry dismayed as subsidy for large plants cut, 10 June). However, the most devastating impact of the government’s actions will be on “community-scale” solar – which is poorly understood but crucial to building a modern green electricity infrastructure.

As you state: “The government said its review of feed-in tariffs (FITs) for renewable energy would divert funds from field-sized … solar power plants to panels on house roofs.” The Renewable Energy Association campaigned alongside Friends of the Earth for the FIT legislation to ensure that diverse people and groups can invest easily in renewable power, including solar. Solar projects in schools, farms, businesses and local councils were beginning to flourish.

The UK solar industry is asking for as little as £3 per household per annum during the lifetime of this parliament to start a solar revolution in Britain.

Minister Greg Barker says: “I want to drive an ambitious roll-out of new green energy technologies in homes, communities and small businesses.” I can’t support his very limited domestic plans. He has been boxed in by the Treasury (no experts on energy), and let down by his own department’s shockingly poor understanding of solar: the latest report by its “expert” consultants anticipates a 37% drop in solar costs between 2010 and 2020. Prices dropped around 25% last year alone.

The government needs a fresh approach to this technology, which has the potential to revolutionise the way we own and generate electricity. Solar energy has to be allowed to compete directly with fossil fuels and new nuclear. It empowers millions of people, not a handful of energy companies. Could that explain the resistance?

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