Once upon a time Cameron supported feed-in tariffs

Posted by Niall Sookoo — 31 October 2011 at 5:55pm - Comments

Today, the government announced how it was reducing the support it gives to the solar industry through Feed in Tariffs or FITS. The slashing of support will be felt most significantly among those new clean energy companies who have invested heavily in manufacturing solar panels. According to the magazine, Business Green, over 20,000 new jobs were created last year in the solar industry. Now as a result of the halving of most of the tariffs, those companies face a difficult year ahead.

Yet once upon a time FITS were all the rage – indeed when he was keen to show off his green credentials, the then leader of the opposition David Cameron came to Greenpeace and gave a speech on why they were so important to the environment and for green economic growth.
This is what he said: So the question David Cameron and his coalition government has to answer today is why were FITs the answer in opposition but the wrong solution in government?

Excellent work digging out this footage - our politicians should be made to account for their previous statements in opposition when they then do a 180 degree turn after we elect them. I have just sent a question to my local Tory MP about this issue with a link to this footage, though I must say I am not holding my breath in expectation of a sensible answer!

It can only be a good thing to reduce the reliance on feed in tarrifs, they have led in Germany and the UK to the widespread deployment of solar technology that isn't mature enough to be a realistic alternative to more conventional fuel sources.  It's better that companies spend their money investing in developing new and more efficient solar panels rather than being supported in mass producing an inadequate technology.

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Report from
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Since the
bomb  was dropped on the 31st
things are getting hot here on the front line...stop

All the big
companies are buying up all the stock and after 4 days rations are hard to come
by...stop

We are under
constant bombardment...stop

The little
man will find it hard to survive and casualties will be heavy...stop

I trust our
leaders sitting astride their chargers on the hill are enjoying looking down
and watching the slaughter.

Tell my
wife I love her, kiss the dog , and pat the children for me

Forgive them;
they know not what they do!...or do they?...stop

 

I work for a solar panels company. The future impact is rapidly becoming very obvious.  I’ve spoken to four customers this morning who only want to get quotes for solar panels if they can get them installed from December the 12th onwards (the date the FIT looks to drop to under half its previous level).

 

The government are arguing that the reason that caused this change in the FIT to be necessary is that solar panel prices have fallen by 30% since April 2010, causing a greater than expected increase in demand for solar panels, so the funding of £167 million for 2012 will run out and there’ll be nothing left for new installations. However, every single time a solar panel installation is carried out, it has to be registered in order to receive the FIT. This means that the government have been constantly collecting statistics showing that their expectations for the number of installations have been far too low, and this has been shown to them since the start of the scheme. This is terrible – the government should have acted much sooner, and given a lot more notice about a potential decrease in the FIT so as not to cause so much instability in the industry by fast-tracking a review of the rates.

 

Renewable energy is something which requires a lot of investment up front – installing solar panels costs an average of about £10,000. Even with the  new lower rate earned still making them a reasonable investment, they have been made almost untouchable as an investment for many because of this instability that the government have shown towards them – no one is willing to risk so much money on something which they have any doubt over.

 

The impact of the fall also harms the businesses that construct, and supply solar panels too, which means there's much less incentive for innovation to lead to improved solar panel efficiency, harming this as a potential method of providing a significant quantity of clean energy in the future too. This blog article covers these industry-specific solar panel points in a bit more detail if you fancy a read: http://www.talksolarpanels.co.uk/fit_fall_effects.php

 

My confidence in the scientific competence of Greenpeace is badly shaken by their support of photovoltaics and FITS. Anyone doing the sums properly concludes that it is the wrong technology for our latitudes. The massive tarrifs are a tax on all electricity consumers, paid to wealthy investors and supporting an innapropriate technology. I want my green tax spent on science not greenwash.

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