Solar cuts to ‘double Cornish unemployment’

Contentious cuts to the small-scale feed-in tariff could cause unemployment in Cornwall to double, a local campaign group has claimed.

Truro Renewable Energy Enterprise (TREE) and Fal Energy Partnership (FEP) state there to be around 4,000 people employed in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries in Cornwall to date.

A survey conducted last month by the Renewable Energy Office for Cornwall revealed that companies in the county expected to lay off around 3,000 people combined, effectively doubling the current unemployment count of 3,056.

The survey underlines earlier analysis conducted by the Solar Trade Association which concluded that as many as 27,000 jobs from across the UK could be lost as the industry scales back in the face of cuts to clean energy frameworks.

TREE’s Lindsay Southcombe also noted that students at local universities were now less willing to take up careers in renewable energy fields due the government being seen as “hostile” to the technologies.

And Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, added: “I am shocked at the large potential local job losses from the proposed massive cuts in renewable energy subsidies.”

The south west of the country, in particular Cornwall and Devon, has proven to be an area of intense solar deployment given its higher than average solar irradiance and large amounts of undeveloped land.

Such has the development of solar in the area been that DNO Western Power has reportedly said the grid infrastructure is now at or nearing capacity.

However with the government having effectively closed all routes to market for subsidy-free ground-mount solar – the final blow being delivered earlier this week with news that solar is to be excluded from next year’s Contacts for Difference allocation round – deployment of utility-scale solar in the area looks set to plateau.