Towards the end of last year, the Solar Trade Association (STA) launched an emergency rescue scheme to prevent the solar industry going into turmoil. Despite the government promising a vote by 2016, STA’s “£1 solar rescue plan” remains up in the air.
Within its proposal, STA promised a rise of just £1 on household annual fuel bills as of 2019, thus supporting solar businesses and the government simultaneously. The scheme was geared toward finding a way forward for the renewables industry in light of government cuts to the Feed-in-Tariff which are widely reported to have discouraged stakeholders and clients from investing in solar energy.
In its place, STA submitted a four strand procedure hoped to protect business while safeguarding the cost control measures required by the government. The organisation vowed to make solar energy more attractive by setting higher initial tariffs that lead to bigger returns (8p domestic to 4p stand-alone). Under its advisement, the market would also benefit from more relaxed caps while the government would retain the power to control investment and tariff rates.
It would add just £1 per year on average household energy bills from 2019 while generating enough electricity to power the equivalent of 875,000 homes.
A number of MPs across all of the UK’s major political parties emerged to express support for the scheme though talks, it appears, failed to yield any real consequences. The future of the renewables sector thus remains uncertain despite the government’s increasing emphasis on sustainability.
At the publication of STA’s proposed “£1 solar rescue rescue plan”, Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association was keen to stress that the market was in “crisis” and that the plan was an “affordable solution”.
The association suggested it would need £95m over the next three years to realise the scheme, a somewhat inflated figure compared with the government’s pledge of £7m.
In view of the sector’s current struggles, STA’s warnings and failed bid for investment is a look at what could have, perhaps should have, been.