Solar subsidies cut by 65 per cent

Financial aid for rooftop solar panels has been cut by 65 per cent, the government has announced.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed the changes in subsidies on 17 December, reporting that the existing financial aid of 12.47p per kWh will but reduced to 4.30p per kWh from next month. There will also be an overall spending cap on renewable technologies (including wind, solar and hydro) of £100 million up to 2019.

The reductions are less than the expected cuts of 87 per cent, but have drawn significant criticism, with Friends of the Earth describing them as a ‘hammer blow for households, jobs and UK plans for tackling climate change’.

Renewable energy campaigner Alasdair Cameron said: “Less than a week after the UK government agreed in Paris to keep global temperatures well below two degrees, the government has shown its true colours – and they’re certainly not green.

“These huge, misguided cuts to UK solar are a massive blow for jobs and the economy, and further undermine the government’s already tarnished credibility on tackling climate change.

“Massive public opposition to the government’s original proposal may have forced ministers to modify their plans, but this is still terrible news for the for UK and its small-scale renewables industry.”

Greenpeace has also criticised the move, questioning the government’s commitment to invest in nuclear power over renewable alternatives.

Barbara Stoll, senior campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “Bowing to pressure from the public and businesses, the government has swapped a blunt axe for a sharp scalpel, but it’s still cutting in the wrong place.

“In just one month, one nuclear plant at Hinkley would swallow up four years’ worth of subsidies for the whole solar sector. Why are ministers signing a blank cheque for expensive, outdated nuclear power while pinching pennies for an energy source on the cusp of a massive investment boom? This makes no economic sense and will only put up bills in the long run.”

The government argues that as costs begin to fall, large subsidies are not needed to support the renewables industry. Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “My priority is to ensure energy bills for hardworking families and businesses are kept as low as possible whilst ensuring there is a sensible level of support for low carbon technologies that represent value for money.

“We have to get the balance right and I am clear that subsidies should be temporary, not part of a permanent business model. When the cost of technologies come down, so should the consumer-funded support.”

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