The Micropower Council Christmas drinks saw an audience of renewable energy professionals assemble at Westminster. However, according to Edie.net, Gregory Barker, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change – a guest speaker at the event – was heckled throughout his speech.
Hecklers took Barker to task over his department’s handling of the feed-in tariff (FiT) and the changes put in place by a second fast-track review, implemented on December 12.
The Minister engaged the criticisms head-on retorting that: “The point at which you can scale-up is not at 43p/kWh when the industry is taking five times that in subsidies than the other large scale renewables…mass deployment is not feasible at 43p/kWh.”
More attendees turned on the Minister as they acknowledged the need to cut the level of subsidy, but were furious about the timescale of the decision and a consultation process that will close after the FiT cuts are implemented.
Mr Barker once more responded to the jeers, saying: "One thing that has been a feature of the way we've engaged is we have brought the industry in, including the micro-generation industry, and asked them what is your key ask at the point when I was degressing the large-scale tariffs.
"And the ask was actually to keep to the April 1 deadline which I undertook to do, but the numbers speak for themselves, this is not something I did lightly.
"It's simply not possible to carry on this level without taking drastic action, simply because of the deployment numbers, I'm afraid I had absolutely no choice but to act in the face of this extraordinary bubble."
After which, the President of the Micropower Council, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Diana Maddock, stepped-in to ask the hecklers to let the Minister finish his speech.
The hostility shown towards the Minister showcases the solar industry’s frustration with the Government’s handling of the feed-in tariff scheme and comes directly after DECC revealed that the solar industry was able to install 126MW of capacity in just one week.
The heckles were delivered on the eve of a High Court hearing over the Minister’s handling of the proposed cuts to feed-in tariff rates for solar technology.