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UK's Solar Energy Industry Continues to Decline

24 Jun 09:00 by Steve Walia

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For a second year on the run, the number of new solar energy installations dropped by 50pc as the impact of the government's subsidy slashes continues to damage the sector. The Labour Party said that the latest statistics showed that the government's approach to renewable energy was simply a PR effort and without substance.

In fact, the figures for the UK were so low that they caused overall growth in solar adoption across Europe to flatline at a point when record levels of new solar power installations were being brought online across the world.

The solar trade body for Europe, SolarPowerEurope, said that Britain was at the bottom of the globe's top 20 solar energy markets due to its slowest growth levels, the poorest political outlook for solar support and lowest prospects for further growth in the coming years across Europe.

The CEO of SolarPowerEurope, James Watson, said that solar energy had been repeatedly flagged up as the most popular source of UK renewable energy and that it was disappointing to see the government failing to take advantage of its vast potential.

In 2017, fresh solar capacity dropped to just 0.95GW, from 4.1GW in 2015 and 1.97GW in 2016. The rapid drop dragged down European figures overall, despite 21 out of 28 European markets demonstrating growth. 

Solar businesses in the UK have been heavily affected by heavy solar subsidy cuts by the government in 2015-6 as well as increases to business rates that affect premises with installed rooftop solar energy.

The shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said that one of the cheapest and cleanest energy forms on Earth was being held back by the government's efforts, which included barriers to clean energy auctions alongside rate hikes to VAT, subsidy cuts and business rate hikes.