The United Kingdom will be glad to see the back of 2011. With government debt touching a record £1 trillion, unemployment rates reaching a 17-year high and GDP dipping by 0.2 percent, the British economy could only do better.
However, the business in solar panels UK has been basking in greener pastures for sure. There were 450 solar panel businesses in the UK, which employed about 3,000 people. This number rose sharply in 2011, with 4,000 businesses employing over 25,000 people. Households scrambled to have solar panels installed, with 16,000 households installing solar panels in the month of last September alone. This hysteria was majorly due to the benevolent government subsidies that provided generous feed-in tariff to boost the solar energy field.
However, the Government’s designs to halve the feed-in tariff have brought solar panels UK to a stuttering stop. According to the Government, the average taxpayer has to pay for subsidies for an inefficient energy source when there are other renewable resources that can be implemented to source energy. According to the solar panel market however, the government was out of line putting the bill across and has put thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of employees out of work.
After the original feed-in tariff scheme was introduced, the growth in solar panel businesses was unprecedented, with more than three times as many solar installations as expected. According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, if things kept on the way they were, the average taxpayer could expect to shell out an extra £100 on the electricity bill. While this was being considered, the average cost of installing solar panels had already fallen by a third.
So, last October, the Government decided to ‘set things right’ and announced the slashing of government subsidies, provoking a scandalised outcry from solar panel businesses across the UK, not to mention thousands of households with solar panels already installed. From 41p, the tariff went down to 21p, leaving the solar industry in a limbo of sorts.
According to Andy Tanner, chief executive, Plug Into the Sun, “It went ballistic before Christmas. Then it was dead as a doornail. Now it’s gone ballistic again. However, we’re on tenterhooks for February 9.”
February 9th is the date on which the Government will announce the result of its consultation, which includes a proposal to pay feed-in tariff only to those households having energy performance certificates measuring up to Grade C or above. Andy Tanner says that this proposal would rule out around 80 per cent of the customers.
The chief executive of Engensa, Tony Darbyshire is also fretting over what happens next.
“There is a huge amount of uncertainty in the industry at the moment. There is real anger about the sledgehammer way this has happened,” says Darbyshire.
Nobody knows what’s next on the cards but the solar panel business in UK is sure to take a turn for the worse if the Government continues on its anti-solar crusade.