Liverpool Council has pulled the plug on plans to install 4,000 solar PV systems on council-owned properties across the city.

The solar PV systems were intended to form a wider part of Project Viridis – an ambitious plan to retrofit 100,000 homes in the Merseyside area with energy-saving technology to help alleviate fuel poverty in the region. Two-thirds of properties eligible for the scheme were identified as suitable for solar arrays. The project, co-ordinated by Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH), was thought to be worth £50 billion to the local economy.

Environment Cabinet Member for Liverpool Council, Councillor Tim Moore, said Governmental cuts to the feed-in tariff rate are a major blow to Liverpool and greatly increase costs of community solar schemes. Moore added: “Cutting the tariff is a double whammy for Liverpool. Together with our partners, we had put together an exciting and pioneering scheme to fit solar panels in social housing, which had the potential to remove hundreds of families from fuel poverty by slashing heating bills.

“It will also have a devastating impact on the firms that are part of Liverpool’s green revolution. The sector employs almost 1,400 people in Merseyside and was gearing up for a major expansion which would have created training and employment opportunities for many people.”

LMH Chief Executive Steve Coffey said: “The changes to the feed-in tariff rate will make it more difficult for Project Viridis to deliver the returns on the investment planned but there is still a demand and opportunities are available. We are awaiting the outcome of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s consultation and will meet with Project Viridis members to discuss the implications so we can assess our options moving forward but remain positive even in these difficult circumstances.”

Liverpool Council is the latest in a string of Councils to cancel ambitious solar schemes after Government proposed drastic cuts for ‘aggregated’ systems. The Local Government Association recently warned that thousands of fuel-poor families living in social housing will face steeper electricity bills as a result of cuts to the feed-in tariff, as the majority of local councils have reconsidered the roll-out of solar.