Ruth Mitchell

Solar Sector needs Government support, says local expert

A North East businessman is calling on the government to do more to support Solar Energy companies, or risk damaging the industry.

Terry Skee established Cleaner Air Solutions in 2004 to supply solar PV to public sector premises looking to generate renewable energy. However, he and others in the industry could be permanently damaged by plans to slash financial incentives for solar electricity.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change are currently in a consultation period to change the feed-in-tariff scheme, but chose to halve payments for solar systems under the feed-in-tariff scheme on the 12th December, almost two weeks before the consultation ends.

“This news is very worrying - it is sad that the essence of the renewables is being lost,” explains Terry. “The Coalition promised to be the greenest government ever, but they are already backtracking on their pledge.

“They can’t make the changes before the end of the consultation - from our perspective it appears to be an incredibly premeditated decision.”

The Government have come under unprecedented criticism for this move, which has created shockwaves in the previously flourishing industry.

“It’s difficult because we can make no forward plans which leaves our staff and suppliers with little security,” he continues. ““It also presents a bad message to the public because we can’t talk numbers with potential customers.

“The aggressive price slash has also left us with a timescale which is completely unmanageable.”

Terry believes that the changes could also result in unscrupulous and untrained workmen taking advantage of innocent homeowners.

“Four months of work will be forced into a six week window, and some businesses will be forced to use untrained workers or ‘white van man’ subcontractors - which could cause problems further down the line.” Terry explains.

Looking forward, Terry anticipates big changes within the sector.

“I believe we will see a significant consolidation exercise within the industry, with some of the smaller companies being swallowed up.” he concludes. “Many businesses will also be forced to diversify.

“However, the Government seriously needs to look at the whole package to move forward and support local economies.”

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