Energy Minister, Greg Barker may have inadvertently misled Parliament over the number of jobs created for the PV industry since the feed-in tariff system was introduced.

In Parliament yesterday, Energy Minister, Greg Barker responded to a question from Caroline Lucas MP, regarding job creation in the solar photovoltaic sector both for her constituency, Brighton and Hove and across the UK, since the beginning of the feed-in tariff scheme on April 1st, 2010.

Apparently the department does not keep track of jobs in the sector. Instead, Barker cited figures prepared by the Solar Power Portal on behalf of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) from industry participation.

He cited that jobs in the sector had increased from approximately 3,000 in January, 2010 to over 10,000 in January, 2011. Barker also used REA figures that projected job creation would mushroom to 17,000 by the spring of this year. The industry would eventually support around 30,000 jobs by January, 2012.

Impressive figures, however, the REA figures were based on surveying industry participants as to job creation expectations that the feed-in tariff as initially established would remain unchanged through to the first planned review in early 2012.

With the recent moves by the government to stage an early review of the FiT, projects up and down the country have since been put on hold. Jobs that were once projected to grow as PV installations gained momentum have in fact stalled.

Worse, is the strong possibility that with significant uncertainty over the FiT review, stalled projects could result in job losses rather than generating jobs as per the original projections.

Howard Johns, Chairman of The Solar Trade Association (STA) said, “It is utterly amazing that only 10 months into this hugely popular and successful scheme the Ministers are putting employment in the sector at risk. They seem not to grasp the fact that the two FiT reviews jeopardize these new jobs.”

Jeremy Leggett, Executive Chairman, Solarcentury said, “It truly beggars belief that a Government elected on a promise of being the “greenest ever” should be rushing to cut the solar PV tariff and kill off one of its very few employment success stories.  Their Sir Humphreyesque attempts to justify the shock decision of 7th February would be amusing, were the consequences for the sector in terms of jobs and value to the UK economy not so serious.”

Ray Noble, Renewable Energy Association said, “Solar in the UK – the biggest April Fool’s day joke ever – the FiT started on April 1st, industry responded, delivered a significant sustainable market with substantial new jobs, only for Government to interfere and kill it off.”