Today's Telegraph leads with the news that ‘The Solar Boom is Over in the UK’.1 It seems that ministers are preparing to cut the feed in tariff for new domestic solar PV installations by between 90 and 100%, effective from January 2016. Despite the falling prices of PV panels this would effectively spell the end of domestic PV installations in this country.
This is a surprise move which seems to fly in the face of the government's own declared aims. In May this year the Energy secretary Amber Rudd said, “I want to unleash a new solar revolution - we have a million people living under roofs with solar panels and that number needs to increase”.2 Was this just a token statement in light of the strengthening number of Green voters at the general election?
So what sparked this decision? Coming as it does on top of planning restrictions on solar PV on green field sites, one can only conclude that ministers are coming under pressure from the coal, oil and gas industries who are feeling increasingly threatened by the growth of solar PV. The idea that the UK could be run entirely on renewables, of which solar would play a significant role, is leading to disinvestment in traditional generation and pushing down the price of fossil fuels.
What can we do about it? Well for a start you can lobby your MP (there is an online petition on 38 degrees website3) that you oppose this proposal which will do nothing to help the much needed transition to green energy. Secondly you can become involved in local energy generation at a community level. It's time to take back control of our future, solar will not go away and goverment policies like this one just cause instability in the market which leads to solar companies scaling back just when they should be expanding.
If you want to find out about community power schemes, how they work and how to get involved, I can recommend you read the Energy Revolution – Your Guide to Repowering the Energy System by Howard Johns.
John Adams is Creative Director at Permaculture magazine.