UK to Axe Subsidies: Future of Solar not so Sunny?

There is an enormous focus on green energy now. EPC London will highlight the improvements you could make, including green alternatives. Global warming is already having a detrimental effect on our planet – the polar ice sheets are melting, sea levels continue to rise, and there are increasing temperatures all across the globe. Scientists warn that if we don’t take action now, then there will be devastating and irreversible environmental consequences. Global warming is mainly attributed to the burning of conventional fossil fuels, such as gas and coal. Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time and so it’s important that we now look towards alternative renewable sources of energy.

Solar power is a clean renewable energy with the potential to replace fossil fuels, therefore reducing the carbon footprint of energy generation, along with the harmful effects of global warming. According to government statistics 80% of the British public support solar power, making it the most popular form of energy.

The government initially encouraged the uptake of renewable energy by offering financial incentives, such as the Feed-in Tariff. However, these schemes have been cut considerably over the past few years and the government is now set to axe solar power subsidies altogether in 2019. This comes after a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that renewable energy has the potential to power the world and meet global demand. Many people are therefore asking why the government are making these cuts, following the scheme’s success in encouraging and supporting renewable energy.

Feed-in Tariff

The Feed-in Tariff was introduced by the government in April 2010 to encourage the uptake of renewable energy. Under this scheme, businesses and homeowners received payment for generating their own electricity from renewable sources. They also then received payment for every unit of electricity they didn’t use but exported back into the grid. Feed-in Tariff payments were guaranteed for 20 years, which secured long-term payments for renewable energy. This meant that people could pay back the costs of their installations and then go on to make a profit, while also having access to a free electricity supply. This incentive resulted in a boom in solar installations across the UK.

Government Subsidy Cuts

The Feed-in Tariff was far more popular than the government anticipated and the budget allocated to the scheme quickly ran out. The incentives were therefore slashed dramatically at the start of 2016 and solar installations plummeted as a result. Government policy changes meant that investment in green energy fell by 56% in the UK in 2017. According to statistics released by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy only 72 MW of new PV installations were added in the UK in the first four months of 2018. This is compared to 748 MW of new solar which was deployed in the first four months of 2017.

In April 2019, the scheme is due to close entirely. Under the government’s new proposals, homeowners and businesses will not be paid for supplying the grid with their generated solar energy. It is expected that installations will continue to decline and some argue that the UK solar industry could be destroyed completely.

IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources

The IPCC claim that renewable energy can power the world and meet global demand. They believe that within 40 years, 80 percent of the world’s energy supply could come from renewable energy. But, they argue that this can only happen if governments pursue policies that promote green power. According to the IPCC report “if the full range of renewable technologies were deployed, the world could keep greenhouse gas concentrations to less than 450 parts per million, the level scientists have predicted will be the limit of safety beyond which climate change becomes catastrophic and irreversible.” The report shows that it is not the availability of renewable sources but the policies of governments, that will determine the development of renewable energy over the coming years.

Final Thought

Renewable energy sources such as solar, have the potential to replace conventional fossil fuels and reduce the harmful effects of global warming. The Feed-in-Tariff, along with other government incentives, have played an important part in creating a thriving solar power industry in the UK. Cuts to these schemes have damaged a lot of that industry. Climate experts have stressed that the future of green energy is dependent on the support of government public policies. It is therefore important for governments to get fully behind solar power again and channel investment towards clean energy sources that can best secure a sustainable future.

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