The Energy Minister for Scotland Fergus Ewing has criticised the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) proposal to cut feed-in tariffs (FIT) for solar energy.
The plan - revealed at the end of last month – would see the FIT rate cut by more than half for residential systems. Ewing also criticised the pace of change, which could see the new rules come into force on 12 December when the industry was initially expecting to have until 1 April 2012 to prepare for the amended subsidies.
The sector is experiencing rapid expansion in Scotland with more than 1,300 installations in September alone. Many social housing projects are also currently underway with an emphasis on using solar to take residents out of fuel poverty
The Glasgow Housing Association has signed a contract to retrofit 500 homes with photovoltaic panels and Dundee City Council is engaging in a similar scheme to renovate 1,000. These projects may be cancelled if the suggested FIT levels come into place.
Ewing has written to UK secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne to express concern about the proposals.
Ewing said, ‘Cutting the feed in tariff so sharply and with so little warning will have a devastating impact on families and businesses across Scotland. This change will be a body blow both to the blossoming Scottish solar industry, and to thousands of households across Scotland who will lose their chance to escape from fuel poverty. Companies with full order books, who have invested in recruiting and training new staff, including many I have visited in the past few months, will find the carpet pulled from under them, as the numbers on which they have based their business plans are changed, suddenly and without warning. Families in social housing who were expecting to be able to live without dreading their electricity bill will be deeply affected by this change. I urge Chris Huhne to reconsider both the speed of these cuts and how he will prevent those in most need being hit the most.’