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HPM May 2017

03 EDITOR’S COMMENT “...the industry believes, so we must all believe, that solar power can still become a success story” When solar power subsides under the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) were cut in half by the government in December 2012 – the rate was reduced from 43.3 pence per kWh of solar electricity to just 21 pence – the then climate change minister, Greg Barker, said he wanted to avoid the industry falling victim to "boom and bust". “The plummeting costs of solar mean we've got no option but to act so that we stay within budget and not threaten the whole viability of the FiT scheme," said Mr Barker. Further attempting to justify such a heavy reduction, Mr Barker admitted that the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s expectations for the FiT had been far too low, with three times as much solar installed as it had projected, with over 100,000 installations so far. But how times change. Following cut after cut to the FiT throughout its history – including a significant reduction in government subsidies in January 2016 from 12 pence per kWh to just 4.39 pence – we now learn that solar panel installations have fallen by 80%, a six year low. Despite such damning figures the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy still believes solar can be a success. And it is not alone. Although some solar manufacturers have expressed concern about the lack of progress, they still maintain that solar represents a good investment for households and businesses in certain circumstances. Solar projects can still offer good returns where the bulk of the power generated is used on-site, arguing such scenarios should become more common in the next few years as the cost of both solar panels and energy storage systems continue to fall. The industry believes, so we must all believe, that solar power can still become a success story. But it is over to the government now. It must stop telling people to be green, to be efficient and to create your own energy – then the amount of energy it pays the homeowner for that solar energy. The government wants Britain to be “one of the best places in the world to invest in clean, flexible energy”. Ensuring there are no more FiT cuts will offer a much better chance of reaching this goal. Editor enquiry number 301 Tim Wood


HPM May 2017
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