The head of a Huddersfield renewables company is warning that thousands of jobs are at risk in Yorkshire after the Government announced reductions of almost two-thirds to subsidies for solar panels on homes.
The move, which ministers say is necessary to curb rising costs of green energy on consumer bills, comes days after the UK backed the world’s first universal agreement to avoid climate change by bringing down greenhouse gas emissions.
Duncan Walpole, MD of Slaithwaite renewables company EnviroMental Energy, said: “A lot of companies I know will simply just fold.”
Mr Walpole’s company does other ventures, including turbines and heat pumps, which means the effects won’t be as great.
“I have other eggs in my basket but most companies are exclusively solar and that is where the problem is. We will survive but I have a lot of people on part time contracts and it is likely they will see much less work over the next year.
“And companies which just do solar will feel it very hard. I think more than 2,000 jobs could be lost across Yorkshire.”
The reductions in payments of 65% under the “feed-in tariff” scheme for energy generated by new small-scale renewables are not as severe as originally proposed in the summer, when ministers floated an 87% cut for domestic solar electricity.
Mr Walpole said: “It’s better than had been suggested but still not good.
“The solar industry will be able to stand on its own within two or three years without tariffs. But solar has now peaked because people tried to get in before the changes.”
Domestic solar panels will receive 4.39p per kilowatt hour of renewable electricity generated, down 64% on the 12p they would have received from January and 65% less than current levels.
The Government’s impact assessment for the changes show that between 9,700 and 18,700 jobs in the solar industry could be lost as a result of the cuts.
The highest subsidies for solar under the new rates will be for schemes of the kind of size schools would have or small commercial arrays, but even this has seen a significant cut in payments.
Friends of the Earth say cuts to its financial support for rooftop solar, revealed today, are a hammer blow for households, jobs and UK plans for tackling climate change.