UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has exhausted its fund for solar installations on public buildings ahead of time and hence closed the scheme. The fund was being provided under low-carbon buildings programme for boosting wind, biomass and solar energy. DECC has already allocated share of half of the GBP50 million grant ahead of time. Solar industry wants the unspent money available for other technologies to be given for solar installation otherwise it may not get spent.
They also want the grant money recycled to other projects if some are cancelled.
But environmental campaigners are angry that the solar industry will undergo a gap in support for well over a year at a time when Gordon Brown and other ministers are talking of creating 400,000 green jobs as a way of boosting the economy and combating climate change.
UK Green Building Council Head Paul King said: The prime minister has talked of the need to both invest in low-carbon infrastructure and to stimulate the economy. [This grant system] did just that, so it seems absurd that government has now suspended grant applications for solar PV. This emerging industry needs to be confident of government’s commitment – which this decision seriously calls into question.
A DECC spokesperson said: We recognise that the popularity of the low-carbon buildings programme has led to an over-subscription in solar PV applications. We are discussing with industry what options are open to us to address this. But Friends of the Earth accused DECC officials of standing in the way of progress towards a low-carbon economy by remaining too sympathetic to fossil fuel energy companies.
DECC needs root-and-branch reform to cull these people who are trying to destroy our best efforts to move to a low-carbon, green energy system without which we have no hope of meeting our carbon-reduction commitments, Friends of the Earth campaigner Ed Matthew said.
A coalition of member of parliaments, businesses and charities known as the Aldersgate group has written an open letter to the chancellor, Alistair Darling, urging him to match the green stimulus of the US in the budget in April 2009.
Peter Young, chairman of the group, said: The government’s aspirations for a low-carbon industrial strategy will only be credible if they are matched with genuine ambition in the upcoming budget. We have heard the rhetoric, we now need to see action. If not, the UK will fall further behind in the race to establish jobs, expertise and growth in the industries of the future.