Barker lambasted for ‘breathtaking arrogance’ during radio interview

The Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker has been accused of “breathtaking arrogance” after the minister labeled a report into the domestic solar PV market by BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme as a “travesty”.

The radio report quizzed David Hunt, Director of Eco Environments about the apparent slowing of the domestic solar PV market since DECC introduced prohibitive legislation and slashed the FiT rate by more than 50 percent. Hunt explained that his company had experienced a dramatic drop in the number of domestic solar PV enquiries and that the potential return on investment would fall further under DECC’s revised strategy, which will see the FiT rate cut further in August.

When interviewed, Barker claimed that the report was a “complete travesty” and “totally out-of-step with what is happening in the industry.” Barker contested that the number of installations are actually growing, with installs “three times higher than a month ago.”

Hunt said: “There is absolutely no evidence at all that the number of installations is growing at the huge rate he suggests or that they will grow when the feed-in-tariff is cut to 16p from August.

“The only reason why it appears that there has been a small increase in installations is because orders fell off a cliff following the slashing of feed in tariffs in April.”

During the initial report, Hunt had explained how potential return on investment will be affected by the drop in FiT rate, mentioning how a system which cost £16,000 last year would cost closer to £9,000 at the moment.

The Minister was quick to seize on the quoted figure, stating: “The numbers quoted [in the report] just aren’t accurate; you said that the average cost of an installation was just over £9,000. Actually, Tesco are offering a comparable installation for £6,500. But it’s not just the big supermarkets, British Solar Power in London - £6,500, Solar Essence in Norfolk under £7,000. So I’m afraid the company you’ve found isn’t offering a competitively priced panel.”

Responding to Barker’s claim, Hunt said: “Greg Barker is being totally disingenuous with his use of figures for installation costs. If anyone is offering a 4kW system for £6,000 they are not doing it because they want to – they are doing it to survive and live to fight another day.

“I am also staggered that the Minister chose to promote a conglomerate like Tesco at a time when the jobs of tens of thousands of workers at independent solar installers are either being axed or are in serious jeopardy.

Hunt added: “Mr Barker went on to say that he is forecasting over a million new installations by 2015 compared to the previous Labour Government target of 250,000, but he is living in a fantasy world if he really believes such a figure has any kind of foundation.”

“Greg Barker has once again demonstrated both breathtaking arrogance and ignorance at the same time.”

The minister was quick to point to news that Sharp Solar has today announced that it will be shifting its head office from Germany to the UK as proof that his department’s policies are laying the foundation for a prosperous UK solar industry.