Solar Trade Association seeks £1-a-year ‘sun-tax’ to fix UK industry crisis

MPs help launch the Save our Solar £1 a year 'sun-tax' campaign
MPs help launch the Save our Solar £1 a year ‘sun-tax’ campaign

The solar industry is putting forward an emergency rescue plan for British solar which will put £1-a-year on bills in 2019 as an alternative to the Government’s proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariff for the technology.

The Solar Trade Association hopes that its ‘£1 solar rescue plan’ will work for both the solar industry and government, allowing a viable solar market to continue while giving the government the cost-control guarantees it requires.

The £1  ‘sun-tax’ plan garnered cross-party support from over 30 MPs from all parties yesterday at an action day outside the Westminster parliament, including Sir David Amess MP (Con), Mims Davies MP (Con), Kevin Hollinrake MP (Con), Caroline Flint MP (Lab), Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party), Callum McCaig MP  – who is the SNP’s Energy Spokesman in the House of Commons –  and Tom Brake MP (LibDem).

The Government consultation on the changes is set to close today (23 Oct) with a final decision expected later this year.

A spokesman for the Solar Trade Association said: “This emergency plan represents a compromise agreement which, given the current crisis, aims to find a way forward that is acceptable for both the Government and the solar industry.”

“The fact that this plan costs just £1 per household shows just how affordable it could be to adopt steady, gradual reductions in support for solar.”

“Solar is close to grid-parity, but it is not there yet. The Government’s 98% cut in the overall budget for solar would derail the industry at the last hurdle and waste the millions of public investment in solar to date.”

The STA proposal introduces higher tariffs than those proposed by Government, with higher and more flexible caps on the total amount of solar that can be deployed and an improved mechanism to continually bring support levels down.

The trade body is asking for a total of £95 million over the next three years, a significant increase on the £7 million the Government is proposing over the same period.

But the STA say the plan would only add an extra £1 per year on average household energy bills from 2019 for new solar deployed over the next three years which would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 875,000 homes.

Already, the proposed solar tariff cuts have dealt a heavy blow to investor confidence in the market, with three solar businesses – Mark Group, Climate Energy and Southern Solar – having already gone into administration over the last few weeks making over 1,200 people across the country redundant.

American firm Zep Solar has also pulled out of the UK market.

The Solar Trade Association has estimated that up to 27,000 jobs in the solar sector and its supply chain could be at risk if the proposed reductions in tariffs go ahead.

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