Providing a much-needed boost to the solar industry, the UK’s biggest business group has come out in support of the renewable technology, claiming the decision to cut the feed-in tariff rate by more than 50 percent is “the latest in a string of Government own goals”.
John Cridland, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Director General thinks the low-carbon sector risks being derailed in the UK by unexpected changes, with the loss of thousands of jobs.
During his speech at the upcoming CBI annual conference, Cridland is expected to comment on the devastating effects the proposals could have on industry.
“Moving the goal posts doesn't just destroy projects and jobs, it creates a mood of uncertainty that puts off investors and they wonder what's coming next,” he says.
Outlining how many companies have already invested heavily in solar photovoltaic systems and the supply chain, Cridland will also highlight how Government’s decision has undermined the commitment these companies have made.
“Industry trust and confidence in the Government has evaporated. This bodes poorly for investment in future initiatives,” his speech says.
Cridland is also expected to call for an industrial policy that helps the UK expand its share of the low-carbon sector, which he said had been growing globally throughout the recession.
“A new understanding needs to run through all of Government. Industrial policy might be based at the Department for Business, but all departments need to share the same ambition. They all need to work to join up policies and create a system that’s more than the sum of its parts.
“Competitiveness needs to be policy priority number one. We need to give investors confidence to put their money into growth here not abroad,” he will say.
Government’s decision has been widely criticised by the UK solar industry, which believes that by cutting the tariff by such an amount, as well as implementing the December deadline, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will kill off any chance of survival.
DECC is also facing two possible legal challenges over the proposals from Friends of the Earth and lawyers acting on behalf of a group of installers, including Solarcentury.
Yet, despite the uproar caused by last week’s announcement, DECC maintains that it had no choice but to intervene as without these changes, the industry would not last longer than a few more months.
A DECC spokeswoman said: “We appreciate this will be difficult for companies affected but what we want is an enduring future for the industry.
“If we left things as they are, the feed-in tariff budget would be eaten up entirely, full stop, and that would be even worse for employees in this sector and those working on other technologies too.
“We believe solar photovoltaic can have a strong and vibrant future in UK and we are proposing changes to ensure a lasting feed-in tariffs scheme to support that future.”