APHC urges government solar task force to take cautious approach

Published:  07 August, 2012

In a recent DECC blog, Minister for Energy & Climate Change Gregory Baker outlined plans to bring down the costs of solar installations for consumers.

Barker commented on the drop in the cost of solar products and has now set up a ‘cost reduction task force’ with industry to help reduce installation costs.

He hopes the move will be a way of providing stability and certainty following the recent spate of cuts to the Feed in Tariffs (FiT) and the delays in the launch of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.

“With the cost of panels and inverters coming down significantly, I now want to work on bringing the price of installation down,” said Barker. “That is why I have set up a cost reduction task force with the industry to help do just that. We will also update our vision for renewables later this year to reflect solar’s increasingly important role in meeting our renewables targets.”

However, there is a lack of information on how this task force intends to drive down solar installation costs that the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) has described as concerning.

John Thompson, APHC chief executive said: “While we welcome the move by Greg Baker to stabilise the renewable industry with his recent blog comments, we are concerned about this Cost Reduction Task Force and how small businesses are going to be affected by this.

“The solar industry is becoming increasingly competitive, you only have to look in the trade press to see the number of manufacturers and installers increasing almost monthly, and this has helped lower installation costs thus far. We are becoming increasingly concerned that many small businesses, which are already seeing their margins squeezed by the current economic conditions and various schemes, are going to be pushed too far.

“The choice facing many SME’s is going to be to either compete, potentially at a loss or with a lower quality of workmanship, or leave the renewable industry altogether.”

Thompson concluded: “I would urge those taking part in this task force to consider all sectors of the industry before making any conclusions that could see many smaller businesses priced out of the solar installation market, especially at a time when the Government are trying to get people interested in the Green Deal.”

The full blog post is available on the DECC website.

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