DECC predicts a third of UK solar workers will lose their jobs

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has published its Impact Assessment for the announced reforms to the feed-in tariff scheme.

The Minister for Climate Change has continued to assert that the newly-revised feed-in tariff scheme will grow the solar industry. Barker said he expects “a steady growth in the number of people who will be employed in the industry until 2015 and beyond.”

However, figures published in the Department’s own Impact Assessment estimate that jobs in the UK solar industry will fall from 15,000 in 2011 to just 10,000 in 2012. The 5,000 job losses are attributed to the predicted fall in installations during 2012. DECC expects installations to plummet by over 40 percent under the new proposals, from 205,000 in 2011 to 120,000 in 2012.

Caroline Flint, the Shadow Secretary of Stare for Energy and Climate Change, challenged Barker on the impact of the new proposals, saying: “The Minister tried to claim that his original plans would create an additional 1,000 to 10,000 jobs in the solar industry, but we have found out that that was the total number of jobs that the industry would support, not the additional number of jobs, which would in fact mean 15,000 to 20,000 job losses. I suppose that he will try to tell us that even deeper cuts will create even more jobs.”

The Impact Assessment shows that, although jobs will be lost in 2012/13, DECC expects the number of people employed by the solar industry to rise quite sharply between 2013 and 2015. By 2015, the Department expects an additional 10,000 people to be employed in the solar industry in the UK.

Howard Johns, Chairman of the Solar Trade Association said: “We welcome the extra budget and increased ambition, but if many solar workers lose their jobs this year because of these changes, how can we hope to deliver on these aspirations. Surely it must be possible to move forward without causing bankruptcy in the sector?

“We call on government to soften the blow to an industry that has delivered amazing things in the last two years, cost reduction, job creation and mass engagement. We too want a sustainable industry moving forwards but this proposal, without adjustment, will not get us there.”

DECC are consulting on the proposed changes to the feed-in tariff until April 3. The Impact Assessment can be found here.