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12,500 Solar Jobs Lost In The UK

A new survey has found that the number of jobs lost across the UK solar industry could be as much as 12,500, or around one-third of previous total employment.

The figures stem from a new comprehensive survey from PWC and the UK Solar Trade Association which showed that the 238 solar industry firms surveyed collectively employed only 3,665 people, compared to 5,362 a year ago — a drop of 32%. Further, 4 in 10 firms surveyed are being forced to exit the UK solar market entirely, or diversify into other markets in an effort to keep their heads above water.

The extrapolation of these figures results in the possibility that job loss for the past 12 months in the UK solar sector could be as high as 12,500.

“The UK has entered a highly uncertain period following the vote for Brexit, but uncertainty was a defining characteristic of the outlook for the solar industry even before the EU referendum,” the authors of the report noted in their sombre introduction.

Additionally, solar deployment in the UK for 2016 is expected to fall to less than 300 MW, a 75% drop from the average of 1 GW per year over the past 5 years. Deployment has already dropped 80% compared to the same time a year earlier, and commercial solar roofs deployed under the Feed-in Tariffs is capped at only 15 MW per quarter.

“The survey shows very regrettable damage to the fabric of the British solar industry and the need for prompt Government action,” said Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association. “Shockingly, since we undertook the survey, business investors in solar are set to be hit with a 6-8 fold rise in business rates.”

The UK Solar Trade Association (STA) has repeatedly published its concerns for the country’s UK solar industry given the fluctuating and decreasing policy support and overall strategy the UK Government has shown for its solar industry. This has resulted in the UK Government only allocating 1% of its new renewable energy project expenditure to solar power under the Feed-in Tariff.

Thus, according to the STA, the recently formed Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy — the reformed combination of the previous Energy and Climate Change department and Business, Innovation, and Skills department — represents a real opportunity for the solar industry to receive vital support.

“We urge new Ministers, rather than increase the tax burden of going solar, please reward investment with sensible solar tax breaks consistent with action on climate change. International experience of tax breaks is solid, and the industry is clearly behind this,” Greene continued. “There are many good economic reasons to back the British solar including minimising the cost of decarbonising our power supply to retain competitiveness, while creating exceptionally large numbers of jobs. Our economy faces a major challenge post Brexit; if we want to prosper in future we must strengthen the UK stake in booming global markets – they don’t come bigger than solar.”

“These survey results show there will be a structural shift in the market and solar players need to consider alternative products, services and markets,” added John Dashwood, PwC Head of Renewables, Assurance. “Our report highlights the kind of innovation that can secure a positive future for solar energy in the UK.

“The solar industry undoubtedly faces some serious challenges, but it has already proved resilient and adaptable.”

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