The number of solar panels being installed in the UK has fallen by more than 80 per cent, according to an analysis of new figures in the latest sign that the industry is being strangled by government policies despite being one of the cheapest sources of electricity.
The Solar Trade Association (STA), which produced the figures based on recently released government statistics, found the first three months of this year had seen a catastrophic collapse in the number of solar panels being put up following the withdrawal of virtually all subsidies, a stunning business rate hike of up to 800 per cent and the imposition of “red tape”.
No form of energy generation – renewable or fossil fuel – can currently be built without some form of subsidy and the STA stressed it was simply seeking a “level-playing field”.
Overall, there was an 81 per cent decline in new solar panel capacity compared to the average over 2016.
The STA said it was particularly concerned by a 65 per cent drop in the number of large-scale solar schemes on hospitals, factories and other large buildings, which may well have been caused by the business rate increase. The figures equate to just one large factory roof having solar panels fitted every month in the whole of the country.
And the number of people putting solar panels on their homes is now at a six-year low.
Between January and March, there were about 650 rooftop deployments a week – a fall of more than 75 per cent on the long-term average of 2,700 a week since 2010.
The number of new solar farms, producing large amounts of cheap and green electricity for the grid, has also crashed after being “shut out of a heavily distorted electricity market”. New installations are running at about an eighth of the level in January last year.