The UK government has come under fire from the country’s Labour party, which has accused it of “actively dismantling” the UK’s solar power industry after new household installations of solar power collapsed in May 2019, by a massive 94%.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, challenged the country’s government’s record on climate action after it scrapped subsidies for domestic solar panels which came into effect in April.
Long-Bailey said solar had the power to reduce both household bills and carbon emissions while creating a significant number of new jobs.
“But the government, for some reason, appears to be determined to kill it off, while continuing to cheerlead for fracking,” she said.
The solar feed-in tariffs have been credited with encouraging more than 800,000 home-owners to install rooftop solar panels, but the tariff cut-off, the end of which seemed long-coming following a series of subsidy cuts, has had a devastating effect on new orders.
Green groups as well as renewables sector developers had hoped that the scheme would be replaced by another incentive type to maintain public interest, and in so-doing, prevent major job losses in the industry.
Rather than propose an alternative, government officials confirmed that new solar installations would be expected to hand over excess power to energy companies for free, until a new scheme has been implemented. New proposals are anticipated shortly.
“Parliament declared a climate emergency yet there is no evidence that this government takes this seriously,” Long-Bailey said.
The Tory-led country’s opposition party said that data linked the industry slow-down after the scrapping of subsidies has led to April installations dropping from 79MW in March 2019, to 5MW in April, which would mean that the Labour party’s commitment to install panels on another 1.75 million homes during its first term leading the country’s government.
Trade unions said last month that the number of jobs in renewable energy had plunged by nearly a third in recent years because of a slowdown in the rollout of new projects.
In response to Labour, David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, told MPs the UK had reduced greenhouse gas emissions faster than any other G7 country. Ministers, he said, would lay out a plan to tackle the climate crisis, and create green jobs “later this year”.