• Solar panels - article in today's Times

    Solar panel installations have slumped as suppliers struggle to cope with the end of subsidies and a damaging mis-selling scandal.

    European Union rules forcing the government to quadruple VAT on certain installations from next month is expected to further damage the industry considered crucial to the UK meeting its ambitious carbon reduction targets.

    Installations last year were down more than 75 per cent than those of 2015 as generous subsidies guaranteeing homeowners an income from selling power back to the grid have been eroded. From March this year, those subsidies, paid through a levy on everyone’s energy bills, were removed.

    One million British homes — about one in 25 — have solar panels and they collectively generate the same amount of energy as Britain’s biggest power station. However, that number is now expected to stagnate despite growing awareness of the threat of climate change. Confidence in the industry has also been hit by a mis-selling scandal that has seen thousands of homeowners given false promises about the income their panels would generate to encourage them to take out high-cost loans to pay for them.

    The Financial Ombudsman Service is dealing with more than 2,000 complaints from disgruntled consumers who feel they have been lied to by salesmen. Barclays Bank, which supplied many of the loans, has already put aside £38 million to pay compensation. Most of the companies accused of the mis-selling have now gone into liquidation.

    Environmentalists and green energy providers are also concerned about the impact of government policy on the growth of solar power in the UK.

    Last week, the Renewable Energy Association, Friends of the Earth and the power company, Good Energy, jointly wrote to the Chancellor urging him to reverse the proposed increase in VAT from 5 per cent to 20 per cent due on October 1. Exemptions mean the increase is unlikely to effect the cheapest solar installations but homeowners who want panels with batteries to store power, which is likely to become more popular now the feed-in tariff has closed, will be hit.

    The letter, seen by The Times, says: “Addressing the climate emergency should be top of the government’s to-do list. The legally binding target to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 is an immediate challenge, not a distant goal. Solar power coupled with battery storage is not just a solution to climate change. It is an economic opportunity. However, the UK risks losing out if policy blockers are put in the way.

    “The decisions we make now matter if we care about achieving net-zero emissions within a generation. We urge the Treasury to remove this damaging policy and get behind the British solar industry.”

    The new rate of VAT has presented something of a dilemma for the fervently pro-EU Green Party because it is coming about only because of a European Commission ruling ordering the British government to standardise its rate with other member states.

    If Britain left the EU without a Brexit deal, the government would not need to implement the increase.

    Many in the solar industry question the timing of the increase, coming just one month before a potential no-deal exit from the European Union on October 31.

    Frank Gordon, head of policy at the Renewable Energy Association, said: “Why the government is changing it now after resisting for years is an interesting one. But they don’t seem that interested in encouraging the industry. We used to have solar strategy up to 2020 and that has not been updated for a number of years now. There are also upcoming changes on grid usage charges that are a threat to the sector.

    “We are clearly missing our interim carbon budget targets. The committee on climate change has said there is a policy gap between the carbon emission reductions we can lock in already and those we need to secure to meet the next target in 2032. All these problems are going to make all targets harder to achieve.”
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  • Solar panel installations have slumped as suppliers struggle to cope with the end of subsidies and a damaging mis-selling scandal.

    European Union rules forcing the government to quadruple VAT on certain installations from next month is expected to further damage the industry considered crucial to the UK meeting its ambitious carbon reduction targets.

    Installations last year were down more than 75 per cent than those of 2015 as generous subsidies guaranteeing homeowners an income from selling power back to the grid have been eroded. From March this year, those subsidies, paid through a levy on everyone’s energy bills, were removed.

    One million British homes — about one in 25 — have solar panels and they collectively generate the same amount of energy as Britain’s biggest power station. However, that number is now expected to stagnate despite growing awareness of the threat of climate change. Confidence in the industry has also been hit by a mis-selling scandal that has seen thousands of homeowners given false promises about the income their panels would generate to encourage them to take out high-cost loans to pay for them.

    The Financial Ombudsman Service is dealing with more than 2,000 complaints from disgruntled consumers who feel they have been lied to by salesmen. Barclays Bank, which supplied many of the loans, has already put aside £38 million to pay compensation. Most of the companies accused of the mis-selling have now gone into liquidation.

    Environmentalists and green energy providers are also concerned about the impact of government policy on the growth of solar power in the UK.

    Last week, the Renewable Energy Association, Friends of the Earth and the power company, Good Energy, jointly wrote to the Chancellor urging him to reverse the proposed increase in VAT from 5 per cent to 20 per cent due on October 1. Exemptions mean the increase is unlikely to effect the cheapest solar installations but homeowners who want panels with batteries to store power, which is likely to become more popular now the feed-in tariff has closed, will be hit.

    The letter, seen by The Times, says: “Addressing the climate emergency should be top of the government’s to-do list. The legally binding target to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 is an immediate challenge, not a distant goal. Solar power coupled with battery storage is not just a solution to climate change. It is an economic opportunity. However, the UK risks losing out if policy blockers are put in the way.

    “The decisions we make now matter if we care about achieving net-zero emissions within a generation. We urge the Treasury to remove this damaging policy and get behind the British solar industry.”

    The new rate of VAT has presented something of a dilemma for the fervently pro-EU Green Party because it is coming about only because of a European Commission ruling ordering the British government to standardise its rate with other member states.

    If Britain left the EU without a Brexit deal, the government would not need to implement the increase.

    Many in the solar industry question the timing of the increase, coming just one month before a potential no-deal exit from the European Union on October 31.

    Frank Gordon, head of policy at the Renewable Energy Association, said: “Why the government is changing it now after resisting for years is an interesting one. But they don’t seem that interested in encouraging the industry. We used to have solar strategy up to 2020 and that has not been updated for a number of years now. There are also upcoming changes on grid usage charges that are a threat to the sector.

    “We are clearly missing our interim carbon budget targets. The committee on climate change has said there is a policy gap between the carbon emission reductions we can lock in already and those we need to secure to meet the next target in 2032. All these problems are going to make all targets harder to achieve.”
  • The digs at the EU are unecessary. The governmetn have never backed solar and just cut subsidies at every level. we should be investing in this massively

    That said, I think we should have an EU wide directive / agreement that low/no VAT is charge and there is a target towards self-generation of energy.
    0
  • The digs at the EU are unecessary. The governmetn have never backed solar and just cut subsidies at every level. we should be investing in this massively

    That said, I think we should have an EU wide directive / agreement that low/no VAT is charge and there is a target towards self-generation of energy.
  • Quote Originally Posted by Jowl View Post
    The digs at the EU are unecessary. The governmetn have never backed solar and just cut subsidies at every level. we should be investing in this massively

    That said, I think we should have an EU wide directive / agreement that low/no VAT is charge and there is a target towards self-generation of energy.
    Even if the VAT change happened the actual cost increase is quite small because if you read the article it would only apply to certain systems.

    I have looked into solar panels systems and the a few of the companies I have contacted are not that interested unless you take a finance package.

    I don't think relying on government help at present is an option although the SEG scheme may change that.
    For small scale schemes to become viable there does need to be a change in the cost structure.

    Just my thoughts.
    0
  • Quote Originally Posted by Jowl View Post
    The digs at the EU are unecessary. The governmetn have never backed solar and just cut subsidies at every level. we should be investing in this massively

    That said, I think we should have an EU wide directive / agreement that low/no VAT is charge and there is a target towards self-generation of energy.
    Even if the VAT change happened the actual cost increase is quite small because if you read the article it would only apply to certain systems.

    I have looked into solar panels systems and the a few of the companies I have contacted are not that interested unless you take a finance package.

    I don't think relying on government help at present is an option although the SEG scheme may change that.
    For small scale schemes to become viable there does need to be a change in the cost structure.

    Just my thoughts.