The UK government is opposed to the European Union’s minimum import price (MIP) on solar modules and has lobbied the European Commission on the matter, energy secretary Amber Rudd has confirmed.
The confirmation came during this morning’s select committee hearing on the government’s role at COP and followed a tough line of questioning on the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s support of the solar industry in light of proposed FiT cuts.
Earlier this month the European Union launched an expiry review into the MIP, effectively extending it for at least another year. This, coupled with an increase in VAT for solar panels to 20%, ended hopes of the UK market being able to access cheaper modules in order to offset reductions to FiT rates.
The industry has called upon the government to oppose the EU pricing directive and while DECC has been quiet on the subject until now – Solar Power Portal’s requests for comment on the MIP had gone unanswered – Rudd’s confirmation that it is opposed will offer some solace.
Rudd confirmed that DECC had addressed the European Commissioner in November to note its opposition and said it would continue to lobby the EC on the topic. The secretary’s understanding of its impact did however appear limited and Rudd was visibly surprised when informed by Conservative MP Julian Sturdy that the directive added “as much as 20%” on top of installation costs.
Yesterday Solar Trade Association chief executive Paul Barwell referenced the issue with the select committee and gave his opinion that the pricing amounted to market protection of Germany’s domestic solar manufacturing sector.
Rudd said she would not go as far as to suggest that, but did add that its repeal would be “in the UK’s best interest to ensure there is a level playing field”.