Drastic cuts for large-scale solar power subsidies

Subsidies for large-scale solar power installations are to be cut drastically, in a move that ministers said would preserve funds for households to put up panels, but industry warned would mean a slower uptake of renewable power.

The government said its long-awaited review of feed-in tariffs for renewable energy would divert funds from field-sized solar power plants to panels on house roofs.

But the renewable energy industry and green campaigners said the change of heart would mean community schemes, put forward by housing associations, schools and hospitals, would not go ahead.

Howard Johns, chairman of the Solar Trade Association, said the move would cripple the UK’s fledgling solar panel industry. “Crushing solar makes zero economic sense for UK plc because it will lose us major manufacturing opportunities, jobs and global competitiveness,” he said. “It also risks locking us in to more expensive energy options in future. It is inexplicable that the Treasury can be allowed to damage energy and industrial policy by taking decisions without taking into account the bigger picture.”

The reform, trailed in February but delayed by a consultation that was recently completed, will favour domestic and other small-scale installations of solar power, of up to 50kw – typically enough to cover several houses, or about two tennis courts according to the government, but not enough for some of the community-scale installations some developers had planned, which would cover fields.