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Solar Investors Slam Subsidy Cuts As Solar Company Collapses

John Murray Brown, Christopher Adams and Josh Noble, Financial Times

One of the world’s biggest renewable energy investors has warned that “draconian” UK subsidy cuts will kill solar power in Britain, blaming policy changes for a pullback that led to the collapse of a big installer and nearly 1,000 job losses.

SunEdison, the US-listed group, has rounded on ministers after Mark Group, a Leicester-based home insulation business it acquired only months ago, was put into administration on Wednesday after being sold back to management.

It said in a statement explaining its decision: “Based on the government’s stated desire to ‘unleash the UK rooftop market’ and the programmes and support in place for solar, SunEdison believed that the UK offered long-term opportunities for solar energy.”

“SunEdison took on the challenge of turning [Mark Group] around by leveraging the company’s installation experience in the solar photovoltaic market. We are extremely disappointed that the draconian policy proposals made by the government in August will essentially eliminate the solar PV market in the UK and have made our plan unviable.”

Mark Group was acquired in July by SunEdison. However, its management team bought the company back on Wednesday morning, before appointing Deloitte joint administrator. Mark Group said ongoing losses had made administration the “only option”.

The collapse is the latest evidence of how green policy reversals since the Conservative general election victory in May have thrown investor plans into turmoil.

Just two weeks ago, the Drax power company said it was pulling out of a £1bn UK climate-change plan because it was now too risky to proceed. It has abandoned five years of planning for a carbon and capture storage system next to its huge North Yorkshire power station. It also blamed “critical reversals” in government support for renewable energy.

The UK solar panel market has been hit hard by changes in the subsidy regime announced by Amber Rudd, the energy secretary. The government has proposed ending assistance as soon as January for small-scale renewable projects and cutting guaranteed prices paid for electricity generated by new rooftop solar installations by up to 87 per cent.

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