Solar energy rescue plan ‘could cost consumers just £1 a year’

The Solar Trade Association has unveiled a rescue plan in response to planned subsidy cuts.

The Solar Trade Association has unveiled a rescue plan in response to planned subsidy cuts. - Credit: PA

Support for solar power costing consumers just £1 extra a year could save thousands of jobs – including hundreds in Suffolk and north Essex – and help the energy source become subsidy-free, according to a new campaign by the industry.

The Solar Trade Associationi (STA) warned earlier this month that up to 27,000 jobs across the UK, including 1,870 in the East of England, could be lost as a result of plans by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to cut the “feed-in tariff” paid for electricity generated by solar panels by 87%.

The Government says that take-up has been so great that the original target of supporting 750,000 solar installations by 2020 is likely to be reached by the end of the year and the payment cut is necessary to prevent the cost of the scheme spiralling.

But the STA, which says around 1,000 jobs have already been lost, yesterday unveiled an “emergency” solar rescue plan which it says would add just £1 to consumer bills by 2019, on top of the £9 a year that subsidies currently cost bill payers.

It would include higher initial tariffs for subsidies to make investing in the technology viable, but with reductions set out to allow the Government to control costs.

STA chief executive Paul Barwell said: “Solar is the future and this is recognised the world over. We think the British public will find it very hard to understand why Government would decimate the nation’s favourite energy source for the sake of just a quid on bills.

“But we do need Government to act quickly now,” he added, and called on MPs of all parties to get behind the plan and restore cross-party support for solar.

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However, a DECC spokesman said yesterday: “Our priority is to keep bills as low as possible for hard-working families and businesses, while reducing our emissions in the most cost-effective way.

“Government subsidies have driven down the cost of renewable technologies significantly and we delivered much higher deployment and more than the promised subsidies to the industry. Our action will protect existing investment whilst also protecting bill payers from rising energy bills.”