Solar Trade Association urges British government for industry strategy for solar – one third of jobs lost within the past year
The 238 solar industry firms surveyed by STA and PwC said they collectively employed 3,665 people now compared to 5,362 a year ago, a fall of 32 per cent. 4 in 10 firms are being forced to either exit the solar market entirely or diversify into other markets to keep their heads above water.
Less than 300 MW new installations in 2016
Extrapolating the survey findings across the UK solar industry, the figure for job losses over the past year could exceed 12,500. That’s around one third of previous total employment in the solar industry, the Solar Trade Association found. Solar deployment this year is expected to fall from an average of 1GW of past 5 years, to less than 300MW this year, a 75 percent drop.
Lack of industrial strategy
The Solar Trade Association has long been concerned by the lack of an industrial strategy for the UK solar industry despite solar increasingly dominating global energy investments. The UK Government is today allocating only 1% of new renewable energy project expenditure to solar power under the Feed-in Tariff. The new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy therefore represents a very welcome opportunity to take a strategic approach to a winning and relatively cheap technology;
Need for prompt government action
“The survey shows very regrettable damage to the fabric of the British solar industry and the need for prompt Government action. Shockingly, since we undertook the survey, business investors in solar are set to be hit with a 6-8 fold rise in business rates”, Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association said:
Tax breaks for new jobs
“We urge new Ministers, rather than increase the tax burden of going solar, please reward investment with sensible solar tax breaks consistent with action on climate change. International experience of tax breaks is solid, and the industry is clearly behind this.” Greene added: “There are many good economic reasons to back the British solar including minimising the cost of decarbonising our power supply to retain competitiveness, while creating exceptionally large numbers of jobs. Our economy faces a major challenge post Brexit; if we want to prosper in future we must strengthen the UK stake in booming global markets – they don’t come bigger than solar.”
Hope from Scotland and London
Nearly half of the respondents of the survey see new build as a key sub market this year. Moves by the Scottish Government to improve new build standards are creating opportunities and it appears that the new London Mayor will also move to support solar deployment across the capital. One in eight respondents are also looking to take their skills overseas to secure business opportunities, with Africa and North America the key markets they are looking to expand into.
Tumultuous year for the solar industry
The solar industry in UK has had a tumultuous year, STA states. Deployment in domestic solar has dropped 80 percent for domestic solar under the Feed-in Tariff compared to this time last year. Commercial solar roofs deployment under FITs is capped at just 15MW per quarter and there is uncertainty about the extent to which Corporate Social Responsibility concerns will sustain investment in the short term. The Renewables Obligation was in effect closed to solar in July 2015. No future auction rounds under Contracts-for-Difference for Solar are anticipated. (HCN)