Inconsistent messages on climate change

The recent news that feed-in-tariff payments are to be slashed by mid-December was a blow to the solar industry. Although the scale of the cut was expected, the immediacy of its implementation was not.

Strangely, the news came on the same day as the Committee on Climate Change predicted ministers would stand firm amid calls from Britain’s biggest energy companies for carbon reduction targets to be lowered. Green goals are fiercely upheld, it seems, but incentives to meet them are being made harder to get at.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change cited the plummeting costs of solar panels as evidence for the financial viability of solar energy under the new pricing system, but it has not – unlike Germany – gradually reduced the tariff in line with those lower technology costs. For many – the cuts are too deep, too soon.

Solar companies that survive the short-term will have to deliver a clear message and rethink the way they make their product attractive to consumers, if they want to make it to the long-term.

This will mean re-educating the public as to what deal they are getting from solar energy. The more transparent the explanation the likelier it will lead to a sustained confidence in the benefits solar panels undoubtedly still bring.

Although the announcement has created many uncertainties for the industry, what is clear is that there will be a consolidation of the market as efficiencies are made through the buying power of the larger firms.

Here’s hoping the news hasn’t turned out the lights for Britain’s burgeoning solar industry.

Max Hammond