From the TUC

New solar industry needs sustained Government support

13 Oct 2011, by in Environment

Government support for the UK solar industry – kicked off by Labour, continued under the Coalition – has now created 25,000 jobs in the domestic solar market. That’s 22,000 more installing small domestic systems than when the UK Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme began last year. And a further 2,500 new jobs were created in 2010 in the larger solar units covered by a separate Government support scheme. According to the Renewable Energy Association , 80% of the jobs in solar are in installations – solar modules are typically only half the cost. The other half is labour costs, now being met by thousands of companies and employees.

The REA says there are now 4,000 solar companies in the UK. At the current rate of registrations there could be 7,000 further jobs by April 2012. In addition to installation companies, the UK has over 60 companies working in the solar manufacturing supply chain and 6 solar manufacturing/assembly plants. There are important new solar manufacturing opportunities in the electric vehicle charging and commercial roofing sector, with large export potential.

But a new study by Ernst & Young UK of the larger solar industry outlook comments that “market instability of the UK regulatory regime is reducing the attractiveness of the UK market to investors, which is likely to increase the overall cost of finance for solar PV above levels that would have existed under a stable FiT regime.” In other words, the Government needs to declare its long term support for this rapidly growing industry, both for the small scale domestic installations and the larger, commercial solar energy developments.

Solar has proved by far the most popular technology under the FIT scheme with 81,000 UK homes now benefiting. Solar is rapidly creating jobs while greening UK homes and offices, and reducing energy bills. The REA wants to see more ambition and vision from Government to sustain these jobs and secure big new solar manufacturing opportunities in the UK, with huge export potential.

The Renewable Energy Association is urging the Government to strengthen the UK’s position in the booming global solar market by increasing investment and establishing a clear pathway for access to the grid. REA Technical Director, Stuart Pocock said:

“Not only can this technology deliver the jobs and green buildings we need today, but costs are falling faster than any other energy generation technology in the world. So by investing in UK solar jobs and companies today, UK companies can deliver a subsidy-free solar revolution to millions of consumers tomorrow. It’s an elegant and timely win-win-win.”