Following on from the various criticisms of the government’s recently announced Clean Energy Cash Back System, comes the announcement of the closure of phase two of the Low Carbon Building Program for solar installations in the UK.
The news is a blow to the industry as it will leave a crucial funding gap until the feed-in tariff comes into operation in April 2010. The move which has been made because of what the government calls ‘unprecedented demand’ seems to have become a victim of its own success.
Initially the government had earmarked £18 million of grants for solar PV installations for public sector buildings such as schools, hospitals and housing installations however it is feared that this cessation of the grant system will kill the solar PV industry in its tracks with the Clean Energy Cash back system still months away.
It is generally believed by industry insiders that the gap left by the closure of the low carbon program comes at an extremely bad time especially with regards to the general economic climate and Britain’s desire to become a real global player in solar PV. Speaking as general manager of UK solar firm, Sharp Solar, Andrew Lee commented that,
“The government’s decision to close the Low Carbon Building Programme Phase 2 is one that threatens to kill the UKs PV industry. At a time when the UK should be building-up interest and support ahead of the introduction of a UK Feed in Tariff next year, the decision to end the LCBP grant procedure because of too much demand is just another unnecessary hiatus in support.
“PV continues to be overlooked as the government conducts a stop start approach to adopting renewable energy. While we understand that PV technology is part of a wider renewable mix – if every building in the UK had a solar panel on its roof, there would be no need for any other energy source.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has come under the fiercest criticism since the dual release of the Clean Energy tariff details and now the low carbon program closure news. Some industry observers have commented that the DECC’s hand is being forced by a strong anti-solar lobby currently operating within Westminster and that this news is a hiatus possibly designed to appease the lobby headed by the utility companies.
Defending criticism of the government, a spokesman for the DECC stated,
“It’s very encouraging that there’s been an unprecedented demand for this technology but we have to be fair to all renewable technologies. We’ve put £18 million into the solar PV ‘pot’ since April which is more than the industry asked us for, so it’s really an unprecedented demand. FITs that come in next April will provide future incentive for solar PV projects.”