Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), March 25, 2011 | Go to article overview
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SUBSIDIES for larger solar electricity schemes could be slashed under plans outlined by the government.

Ministers have said they are concerned about commercial "solar farms" benefiting from incentives designed to boost small scale green electricity projects.

But a leading Merseyside renewable energy company has branded the clampdown on solar power projects "a joke" which threatens to damage job creation and economic growth.

Under proposals, subsidies for mid-sized facilities would be cut by half and the very largest projects would have their grant cut by nearly three-quarters.

The government wants to cut the subsidy for installations producing 50kW to 150kW from 32.9p/kWh to 19p, while installations producing over 150kW will have their subsidy cut from 30.7p to 15.7p. Solar farms producing over 250kW would receive only 8.5p.

Ministers say the clampdown is intended to help protect the incentives available for smaller household schemes.

David Hunt, from Formby, a director with Liverpool-based Eco Environments, said: "The government's claim to be the greenest ever is in tatters.

"While we accept that solar farm scale projects of 1MW plus do warrant review, reducing the tariff significantly for installations of just over 50kWp is farcical.

"There is a huge gulf between 50kWp and 1 MW. This decision seriously impacts on community projects and businesses trying to reduce their energy bills and their carbon footprints.

"In short, the decision shows the government's understanding of the green economy to be a joke.

Eco Environments , which also has offices in Manchester, Tamworth, Penrith and Darlington, said the announcement could also have a serious impact on the growth of the renewables sector.

Hunt added: "The renewable energy sector is one of the most exciting and fastest growing sectors in the UK economy.

"Around 50 per cent of our client base is commercial which means that mindless proposals such as this one could seriously impact job creation and future growth. "We would encourage David Cameron and his Government to seriously reconsider the proposals they have put forward."

The company designs, installs and commissions a comprehensive range of renewable energy and energy conservation solutions, specialising in Solar Photovoltaic (PV), wind turbines and solar thermal water heating systems and heat pumps.

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