Solar SME firms set to close with hundreds of job losses

Emma Howard, Guardian Sustainable Business

20th October 2015

Hundreds more jobs will be lost at solar power companies if planned changes to government policy come into force in the new year, 25 small businesses have told the Guardian.

The solar and energy efficiency companies have already made 32 staff redundant between them and more than a dozen of the firms said they expect to close if the changes come to pass as expected, with the total loss of more than 350 jobs.

The losses would be in addition to 1,000 jobs that have already been axed after four solar power companies in the past fortnight announced they were going into liquidation, blaming the Government cuts to support for solar. Unions also joined the criticism on Monday, saying the Government should not have “slashed” subsidies.

The businesses the Guardian spoke to accused the Government of “actively destroying UK renewables” and “stopping an industry in its tracks”.

Most specifically, they referred to a proposed 87 per cent cut to the solar Feed-in Tariff, a Government incentive scheme for small solar installations. Some firms also cited the closure of support for the flagship Green Deal scheme that incentivised homeowners to invest in insulation for their homes.

Many reported that they are experiencing a surge in demand before the change to the Feed-in Tariffs comes into force on January 1 2016. The Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme, a separate solar subsidy for larger solar installations of up to five megawatts, is also set for early closure in April.

Nick Pascoe, managing director at Orta Solar, which is in the process of closing, making four permanent staff redundant and affecting 11 more contractors, told the Guardian: “The rest of the world has recognised that renewable electricity inspires countless entrepreneurs to set up localised generation businesses and that it can challenge the market share of the established monopolies.

“However, this Government are so much in the pockets of those established monopolies that they are doing their bidding in actively destroying UK renewables. Their stance is out of step with the rest of the industrialised world and is a dreadful blight on the UK.”

The director of another failing solar company accused the Government of “willfull destruction” of the industry in order to make way for fracking and nuclear energy.

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