Britons have had enough of solar panels ruining their idyllic countryside. The UK government is planning to eliminate subsidies in a bid to keep solar farms from continually sprouting up across the countryside.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change announced an about-face in the country’s energy policy, saying it would discontinue its ratepayer-funded subsidy regime to new large-scale solar farms by next April.
Originally, subsidies to solar farms were supposed to last until 2017, but growing opposition to solar panels littering the countryside and driving up power costs for households and businesses that were forced to subsidize the developments.
UK lawmakers have quickly learned that subsidizing solar development has led to way more projects being built than was originally anticipated, which means that consumers are paying more for power and are now surrounded by solar panels.
“Large-scale solar is deploying much faster than we expected,” said the Department of Energy and Climate Change. “Industry projections indicate that, by 2017, there could be more solar deployed than is affordable – more than the 2.4-4GW set out in the electricity market reform (EMR) delivery plan.”
“We want to move the emphasis for growth away from large solar farms,” the department said.
The solar industry said it was “dismayed” by the plan, reported the UK’s Daily Telegraph. The government said it would create a new subsidy for large solar farms, but the solar industry says it will be harder to get funding under the new plan.
“This policy proposal will undermine investor confidence in the entire UK renewable energy sector, by removing at a stroke the short and medium-term policy certainty required for major project investments,” said Seb Berry, head of public affairs for Solarcentury.
Environmentalists also attacked the plan, arguing that solar power was crucial to fighting global warming and keep people employed.
“Financial support for solar has already fallen, and any further reductions should only be carried out in a planned way as costs drop,” said Alasdair Cameron, an energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “But suddenly pulling the rug out from under a popular growing clean energy industry makes no sense, and would put thousands of jobs at risk.”
But government officials said that the new plan to cut some solar subsidies would not compromise the country’s climate goals. They argued that the country would still have between 10 gigawatts and 12 gigawatts of solar power by 2020.
“We need to manage our financial support schemes effectively and responsibly,” the Department of Energy and Climate Change said. “That means that we need to ensure that the growth of the solar sector is delivered in a way that gives best value for money to consumers and allows us to offer effective support to the renewables sector as a whole.”
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