The Solar Trade Association has said that a raft of critical decisions published on Thursday are ‘particularly damaging’ for the UK solar industry, describing the move to scrap RO support as “unfair and unjustified discrimination”.

The government confirmed that it is scrapping support for solar over 5MW under the renewable obligation (RO), despite the majority of respondents in its consultation opposing the measure. DECC states that the move was necessary as it can’t afford the current high rate of deployment.

The STA dismisses this claim, noting that the department also published figures which show that the cost of the RO was lower than predicted, with solar accounting for 1.3% of the RO budget in 2013/14.

“The large-scale solar sector has been in shock since DECC’s consultation was announced back in May,” said the association’s chief executive, Paul Barwell. “Why is the UK government putting this industry’s incredible achievements on solar power at risk? To curtail its growth now is just perverse and unjustified on budgetary grounds – solar has only consumed around 1% of the Renewables Obligation budget.”

The association has partnered with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, 10:10 and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas to launch on online petition which asks for the coalition to back UK solar.

Alasdair Cameron, a renewable energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth said that the closure of the RO “will undermine large-scale solar while doing nothing to boost rooftop alternatives – bad news for jobs, the climate and people wanting to plug into clean power”.

The STA argues that DECC has taken the decision to remove RO support on outdated modelling that was carried out in 2012. The large-scale solar industry has managed to reduce its costs by 65% since the coalition took power.

Barwell commented: “This is unfair and unjustified discrimination against large-scale solar. A fair outcome would be an RO banding review based on up-to-date costs, which we have provided to DECC. Our message to Ministers is simple: Let us compete on a level footing with the other technologies that still get RO support.”

The association is also heavily critical of the government’s move to address low deployment in the commercial rooftop market by making changes to the feed-in tariff (FiT). The STA say that the splitting of the >50kW degression band under the feed-in tariff fails to address “longstanding structural failings in the commercial rooftop market”.

Barwell explained: “The government says it wants to put ‘rocket boosters’ under the rooftop solar market. The impact assessment shows the proposed changes will not do that. The great danger is government is destabilising the large-scale solar industry without having done enough to fix the commercial rooftop market.

“Today’s decisions represent serious strategic mistakes in energy policy that are not supported by the facts and fly in the face of the urgent need for cost-effective action on climate change. The industry will do its best to muddle through, but this is not the sensible or coherent approach this technology deserves,” concluded Barwell.