Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has visited Eclipse Renewable Energy in Yorkshire to highlight the importance of the green economy for local jobs and growth.

Over the last few years, Balls’ Morley and Outwood constituency has become a hotbed of green investment led by the expansion of solar technology. Indeed, Yorkshire and Humber generated 2,522GWh of renewable-generated power in 2010, higher than any other English region. The increase in renewable uptake has allowed the region to cut CO2 emissions by 21% from 2005-2009, the largest percentage decrease in the UK.

The Shadow Chancellor was joined on his visit last week by Greenpeace Executive Director, John Sauven, who commented: “The figures show the significance of green business in the region: nearly £3 billion of renewable energy investment was made in Yorkshire and Humber last year, and over 5,500 green jobs created.”

Commenting on the performance of local installer, Eclipse Renewable Energy, Balls said: “It’s great to see local companies like Eclipse doing well and providing much needed jobs. Times are tough for many companies, the economic recovery is still fragile and companies tell me they are cautious about future prospects.

“What we need is a proper plan for jobs and growth that can get the deficit down and create new jobs across all sectors, including the green economy.”

Balls’ call for greater support for the green economy, echoes the Labour Party Ed Miliband’s recent criticisms of the coalition government’s handling of energy policy. Last week Miliband committed to removing carbon from the UK’s electricity system by 2030, a target that will be left out of the upcoming Energy Bill.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Eclipse Renewable Energy’s Managing Director, Chris Cash, said that the people of Yorkshire have really embraced solar due to the simplicity of the technology. However, Cash is clear that the high-profile fall-out over the FiT cuts has damaged customers' perception of solar: “Ultimately, the press and industry itself needs to look at the way it viewed the FiT cuts. The way cuts were presented has given customers the wrong impression that there are no longer incentives for solar.”

“Industry needs to all get together and send the message out there – the rates of return for solar are just as high as they were before the feed-in tariff was cut. Why aren’t people getting this message?”

As for the future, Cash is confident industry will perform strongly: “Solar has proven itself to be a fantastic technology. It’s a no-brainer as energy costs continue to rise. This coming year, if the government gets its act together, we could easily see a £2 million turnover. But we need more certainty.”