Monday, 28 November 2011

How Tories have abandoned pre-election solar promises

Those of us who were active in the campaign to install feed-in tariffs for small renewables remember how the Conservatives captured the support of many greens at the end of 2007 with their policy paper 'Power to the People - The decentralised energy revolution'. Now, far from extending the decentralised revolution, the Conservatives are busy destroying the industry that was established by Labour legislation.

The cut of 43 p/KWh to 21 p in the solar pv feed-in tariff will, as we have heard through industrial testaments recently, kill off most of the solar pv industry. Meanwhile, despite the Government's intentions about seeking the most cost-effective renewable policy, it is cutting back incentives for the most cost-effective widespread renewable source, onshore windpower. Its 'ROC' value is being reduced by 10 per cent as a political sop to anti-windfarm campaigners. Essentially, then, this policy is about giving ground to the strident calls from the political right and pro-nuclear interests for incentives to renewable energy to be cut. Never mind that lots of voters thought that they were voting for a Conservative Party that wanted better support for renewable energy at the 2010 election.

Let us remember a few of the bold statements from the Conservatives' 2007 green makeover document:

'Other European countries have shown what can be done. In Germany, there
has been a micro-generation revolution, based principally on photovoltaic
technology, over the last decade (p 19)
‘With a feed-in tariff system, a fixed price is paid for the electricity producedfrom decentralised, low-carbon energy sources, usually with different price
levels set for different technologies. In Germany, for example, the basic tariff
paid for electricity generated from solar photovoltaics was 0.518 euros in 
2006 (p 23)’

Of course, in its 2010 election manifesto itself, the Conservatives were allowing an impression to be formed that we would follow the German example with regard to solar power.
Talking of the city of Freiburg, the manifesto commented: 'Solar panels have been installed across the city – on schools, churches and private houses, and even on the sports stadium and the City hall' (p91)

But the final quote must come from the Conservatives 2007 document which says:
'By contrast with Germany and the Netherlands, the British micro-generation
industry is tiny' (p 20)

Yes, and Government policy will ensure things stay that way!