The budget was another disappointing day for the solar industry in Britain and those who want to prevent the environmental catastrophe engulfing the planet.
I wrote to Greg Clark the Business Secretary prior to the budget, opposing the Government’s proposals but the Government has not only gone ahead with ending the Feed-In Tariff next April, but in a surprise move that has created shockwaves well beyond the industry, it has also proposed ending the ‘export tariff’ for new installations. This will discourage new investors in solar power.
It seems to me that the latest announcements are all part of the Conservative Government’s strategy to finish off the UK solar industry. They’ve been slashing subsidies since 2015 and last year announced that there would be no new subsidies for green energy before 2025. This, according to the Solar Traders Association, has already cost 12,000 jobs including jobs in Cardiff Central.
The Government’s approach to green energy is very hostile. Having flogged off the green investment bank the Government has shelved plans for a Severn Barrage that could harness the tidal power of the Severn Estuary and refused to back the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project that their own review concluded was “cheaper than almost any other source power.”
Contrast this with the zeal and determination that they have pushed fracking in Lancashire – against the express views of local people and the clear environmental risks.
Given all this, it is no surprise that the UK is currently ranked 24th out of 28 EU countries for our use of renewables, which is a complete disgrace. Conversely, the Labour-run Welsh Assembly Government has committed Wales to producing 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
I applaud this ambition and I am strongly in favour of doing whatever we can to cut greenhouse gas emissions. We are poisoning our planet, and as the recent IPCC report showed we are already doing irreversible harm. That’s why at Labour Party Conference we announced that the renewable energy sector would be a key target for growth for a UK Labour Government.
Our plan is to turn the UK in to a zero carbon economy by 2050, including cutting our emissions by 60% by 2030. A key part of this would be a massive investment in solar energy. Our aim is to triple the amount of solar power we currently generate to 39GW, enough to power 7 million UK homes. This would also create 400,000 jobs in the sectors of the future, rather than those of the past.
We should aim for a green energy revolution to end our poisoning of the planet, put our economy on a sustainable footing and create hundreds of thousands of new, skilled jobs