Plan sees solar sector bracing for stormy weather

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The Solar Trade Association fears as many as 4,250 of the 5,300 solar jobs in the south east – including 104 in Portsmouth – could be lost if the government’s cost-cutting plan goes ahead.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has proposed to cut the subsidy paid for electricity generated by solar rooftop panels from 12.4p to 1.6p, which would mean far less demand for panels among homeowners.

Hive Energy commercial director Tim Purbrick condemned the plan, and said: ‘The prime minister should be backing the hundreds of small and medium-sized local businesses in the solar industry, like Hive Energy, rather than supporting foreign utilities with massive subsidies paid for by hard-working families.

‘Tariffs paid for solar electricity should be reduced in a steady and structured way as the technology gets cheaper, rather than a sudden 87 per cent cut.

‘The prime minister is threatening our climate change goals, our energy security and our economic prosperity.’

Solar Trade Association has estimated that 27,000 jobs nationwide in the solar energy sector and its supply chain are under threat.

But the Solar Trade Association has also claimed the plan will favour the south coast while discriminating against the rest of the country.

Association chief executive Paul Barwell said: ‘Within this new set of proposals the government has used sunlight levels you might find in Devon, rather than those found in Yorkshire as they have done in the past.’

Green campaign groups are also up in arms over the planned cuts. Friends of the Earth’s south-east campaigner Brenda Pollack said: ‘The government’s war on renewable energy threatens thousands of jobs in the south east, and will prevent local people from generating their own clean power.

‘This is crazy for a region with the sunniest places in the UK.’