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Ain’t no sunshine when it’s gone: What will be left of solar following FiT cuts?

November 6, 2015

The government’s proposed cuts to feed-in tariffs have dealt a hammer blow, with firms going under and thousands of jobs lost. So what will the sector look like once the dust settles?

 

“It’s going to be devastating – there’s just going to be a shadow of the industry left.”

Construction News is speaking to John Forster, chairman of both roofing specialist Forster Group and STA Scotland, the Solar Trade Association’s Scottish arm, about the impact of the government’s proposed cuts to feed-in tariffs.

Mr Forster’s business is in a fortunate position compared with many solar specialists, as Forster Energy is just one of a broader range of business units within a larger group company.

But even a firm with diverse interests like Forster is contemplating job cuts, with 43 people involved in its solar arm, either directly employed by it or at group level.

“If nothing changes, we will have no option but to let go a significant number of those purely employed in the solar business,” he says.

“As [the cut] looms closer and closer, we are starting to have discussions at board level about the impact on the wider business, because it can only be significant.”

FiT cut is the deepest

Mr Forster’s story is far from unique, with the STA estimating that 27,880 of the 34,850 UK solar jobs are at risk if the cuts to FiT go through as proposed (see graph below).

The proposal will see the feed-in tariff cut by 87 per cent, which on top of the axing of the Energy Companies Obligation from 2017 and the end of funding for the Green Deal, has meant the outlook is bleak for many renewables specialists.

The government consultation on the cuts closed on 22 October, with the industry now waiting to hear the response – although business leaders are not holding out a huge amount of hope for a positive outcome.

“It doesn’t feel like a terribly believable consultation – it feels like a diktat from a new government that has clear ideological views on what they want to do,” Mr Forster says.

“It doesn’t feel like a terribly believable consultation – it feels like a diktat from a new government that has clear ideological views on what they want to do”

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