MPs have accused the government of denying them a say over planned cuts to solar subsidies. Ministers are risking the future of low-carbon energy with a series of abrupt cuts to industry support, the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee’s chair said.
The solar and wind industries say they can compete without subsidy in a few years if support is tapered off slowly.
But the MPs say the whole sector is jeopardised by changes announced after MPs had left for their summer recess.
The committee, which is chaired by SNP MP Angus MacNeil, says it will not have time to discuss the changes before the consultation period concludes on 1 September.
‘Off a cliff’
Mr MacNeil said: “The measures raise more alarming questions for investors in low-carbon technologies who are already struggling to finance projects after a series of sudden policy changes.
“Removing support for the lowest cost renewables calls into question once more the government’s commitment to decarbonisation targets, sending out a worrying signal in the run up to the Paris climate change conference.”
Professor Jim Watson, from the UK Energy Research Centre, warned that if solar subsidies disappeared completely the government risked the industry “dropping off a cliff”.
The solar cut is the latest in a succession of announcements that have rocked the low-carbon sector.
Over the past few months the Treasury has cut onshore wind subsidies; large-scale solar subsidy; the energy efficiency budget; small-scale solar subsidy; the obligation for new homes to be zero carbon; the escalating tax on polluting industry; and low vehicle excise duty on energy efficient cars. It has also introduced a tax on green energy.
‘No blank cheque’
The Treasury insists it must cut the escalating amount promised to clean energy, in order to stop people’s bills from rising.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, the Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said it was wrong for a supply-driven energy system like solar power to get a “blank cheque” from bill-payers.