Posts tagged with: solar jobs

Friends of the Earth is urging the Government to re-think its plans to slash payments for solar electricity schemes today (Monday 12 December 2011), as the rush to install solar payments ahead of a crucial payment deadline comes to an end.

The Government has halved the payments for any solar electricity scheme completed from today, which will almost double the payback period for homes, businesses and communities.

Later this week (Thursday 15 December 2011) Friends of the Earth and two solar companies – Solarcentury and HomeSun – will ask the High Court for permission to challenge Government plans to cut the payments.

The premature cuts could cost up to 29,000 jobs and lose the Treasury up to £230 million a year in tax income, a report commissioned by Friends of the Earth and Cut Don’t Kill – an alliance of solar firms and consumer and environmental organisations – revealed last month. Earlier this month construction firm Carillion warned 4,500 workers their jobs are at risk because of the Government’s proposals.

Countless schemes have already been abandoned, denying cash-strapped homes and businesses the chance to free themselves from soaring fossil fuel prices.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“These Government cuts will cast a huge shadow over our thriving solar industry and pull the plug on thousands of jobs.

“We don’t oppose modest payment cuts in line with falling installation costs – but the size and speed of these proposals will decimate an industry that could play a key role in weaning the nation off of expensive fossil fuels.

“Ministers must think again and give their support to an industry that could and should be at the cutting edge of a clean energy revolution.”

Heating contractor EAGA are piloting a solar scheme across council homes in Welwyn Hatfield Council in a project designed to add hundreds of solar photovoltaic panels to households. In a scheme similar to carbon reduction programs happening all across the UK, the Hertfordshire scheme will utilise the feed-in tariff in order to save money and of course, reduce carbon emissions.

The feed-in tariff works by offering fixed, premium rates for units of energy generated by small scale renewable energy projects exactly like the one piloted in Hertfordshire. The EAGA scheme will seek to save each household money on fuel bills because of the obvious savings on electricity. As well as the financial rewards to the scheme, the solar photovoltaic installations will save around 1200kg of CO2 a year per household.

Across the 25 year life time of the scheme this equates to 30 tonnes, a sizeable amount which if replicated elsewhere would certainly contribute significantly to UK carbon reductions. Suitability for the solar scheme will obviously depend on such factors as aspect and roof size, however a large number of council schemes across the UK will inevitably cotton onto the EAGA project and seek to make carbon reductions and indeed generate revenue through the feed-in tariff.

Councillor Roger Trigg said with regards to the Welwyn project,

“We are proud to start the New Year with such a positive and innovative scheme, which will mean real savings in our tenants’ energy bills and their overall carbon footprint. We recognise how important it is for our tenants to manage the cost of keeping their homes warm and comfortable. Our homes have already been recognized as some of the most thermally efficient in the UK, and this strengthens our commitment to energy efficiency even further.”

While there is currently a focus on government spending cutbacks, such council schemes indicate how renewable energy, twinned with the feed-in tariff can be a real, viable means of both reducing carbon emissions, saving money and ultimately, helping to boost industry and create much needed jobs.

The We Support Solar group has launched a campaign for the government to add 10p to the proposed feed-in tariff, set to be implemented in the first quarter of 2010. The introduction of a UK feed-in tariff was set out by the government in July and has given the We Support Solar group some cause for concern regarding the long term effectiveness of making the UK solar industry competitive with those of Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic. In a move set to highlight certain deficiencies in the proposed tariff legislation the We Support Solar website is currently urging people to petition MPs via their website with suggestions for the tariff before the consultation period finishes within the next few weeks.

The main concern among the solar industry lobby, most vociferously voiced by the members of We Support Solar, is that the rate paid by energy companies for electricity by means of solar energy will not be high enough to attract investment in the new UK sector. Indeed, the We Support Solar website has quoted that a failure to act on this particular piece of legislation would see the UK fail to catch up with its EU competitors on solar installation.

Citing the benefits of adding 10p to the proposed feed-in tariff the We Support Solar website claims the following advantages for the UK economy:

  • 28,000 UK skilled solar power jobs by 2014
  • Over 400,000 new residential solar PV installations by 2014
  • Additional investment in UK solar PV manufacturing building on established centres in Wrexham, South Wales and County Durham


Certainly, with the announcement from Downing Street this year that Gordon Brown is planning to instigate a ‘green new deal’, using new renewable energies to revitalise the flagging economy, government action following the consultancy process will be under the microscope. The online campaign ultimately requests that MPs contact Ed Milliband, Secretary of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to lay out these specific demands. Whether or not the government does act to introduce a truly workable tariff system will determine whether recent rhetoric represents a real desire to fight climate change or merely court the ‘green’ lobby at a difficult time for Brown’s premiership.

For more information on the campaign, please visit: