The Sun Aint Gonna Shine for social landlords... following cuts to solar plans

// HA News

Another spate of un-green cuts by the Conservatives will put an immediate stop on efforts being made by social landlords to install thousands of solar panels on homes throughout Britain.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change revealed their intentions to cut subsidies for solar energy by almost 90% from January in a consultation paper that was published last week.

Over the last 12 months, social landlords have fitted thousands of solar voltaic panels, paid for by investors whoin turn receive a profit through the government’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT), which is funded through utility bills. There were also several large scale and highly lucrative deals in the pipeline, involving big name investors such as General Energy Solutions, Macquarie Lending and AMP Solar prepared to invest billions in new schemes across the UK.

However, due to the unwelcome news of subsidy cuts, several landlords are expected to cease all plans to install panels on their housing stock, or rush to finish installations already underway before the cuts take effect at the end of the year.

The consultation that took place last week also proposed cutting the FIT rate from 12.47p per kWh to 1.63p per kWh as of January, an 87% fall from current rates. It also gives the Conservatives the authority to close the scheme to new entrants entirely as soon as legislatively possible.

Director of asset management at Cross Keys Homes, Lawrence Ella said “I think the cuts will kill it off. I will be surprised if any of the funders are going to be able to do it at that rate.”

Managing director of Alliance (the energy efficiency arm of housing association Alliance Homes Ventures) Steve Drew commented “it is going to mean the end of solar PV on social housing in the form that we have seen it.”

A couple of months ago, Steve Drew had unveiled frameworks to oversee the installation of £1bn of solar voltaics on social landlord owned homes; however, unfortunately many landlords that had previously expressed an interest had already cancelled as a direct result of January’s cuts.

“The scale of the cuts were a genuine surprise. It just isn’t viable anymore” Mr Drew concluded.

This follows the ending of the green deal and the removal of the zero carbon homes target, leaving the housing industry wondering whether the Conservatives have any concern for our environment at all. The government currently has no replacement scheme in the pipeline to pick up on the good work already undertaken by the Green Deal or the Zero Carbon Homes target, instead vaguely claiming that they would work with the building industry and consumer groups on energy efficiency policy.

Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council, Julie Hirigoyen expressed her concern with this government, saying “With each passing day, this government puts an end to another green policy. The government’s strategy on dealing with high energy bills through home energy efficiency is now dead in the water.”

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