In the latest budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond ignored solar industry pleas to scrap a proposed tax hike of 800pc for rooftop solar. The new increase will now come into force this April. One strange anomaly of the tax is that it will apply to state schools that have invested in solar PV, whilst private schools will have an exemption from paying the tax.
In the Budget speech, barely any mention of the energy sector as a whole was included, other than a commitment to support the fossil fuel industries to maximise the exploitation of natural resources remaining in the North Sea.
The government has produced figures that show how solar energy will become the cheapest means of electricity generation at some point in the next decade. However, the industry has also seen over 12,000 jobs lost in the past twelve months alone, with an 85pc drop in new solar PV rooftop schemes as subsidy schemes were cancelled.
The sector had counted on the government to listen to their pleas to offer some support by reducing the vast jump in business rates that will impact on rooftop solar schemes from April onwards.
This means that the 44,000 UK micro-generation schemes which are currently exempt from all business rates will suddenly be faced with bills that could be up to thousands of pounds. Solar trade bodies spoke of the decision as 'absurd', saying that taxation on energy was travelling in the opposite direction to the market's own trajectory and the efforts to create a more sustainable economy.
The Renewable Energy Association said that solar energy technology could not be stopped by government policy, and added that Britain was at risk of falling behind as the rest of the world forged ahead with clean and green renewable energy developments.