September 5 (Renewables Now) - The UK's Renewable Energy Association (REA) warned on Monday that thousands of solar jobs could be lost if the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme is closed without a meaningful replacement.
According to an industry survey, more than 40% of UK solar installers are considering quitting the industry and 78% are considering cutting staff due to the government's proposals on closing the FiT that envisage ending the export tariff alongside the generation tariff on March 31, 2019. Removing the export tariff means that new small-scale solar projects would be producing and exporting electricity for nothing, REA said. According to the association, keeping this tariff can soften the blow of the FiT closure on the industry.
In a response to the government's proposals, submitted last week, the REA argued that the export tariffs for new small-scale renewable power projects should be continued after the scheme closes in the spring of 2019 and that new targeted tax measures should also be introduced to sustain deployment rates and the existing industry base.
The survey of solar installation companies was conducted by the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC), a subsidiary of the REA with more than 1,500 installer member companies. It was responded to by 140 RECC members.
"RECC members are predicting widespread job losses in the small-scale solar PV sector next year unless an alternative support mechanism is in place from 1 April 2019," said RECC chief executive Virginia Graham. "Three in five of those who responded to our survey said that closing the FiT Scheme with no replacement will affect their business ‘very negatively’, while one in two predicted that ‘over 75%’ of the jobs in the small-scale solar sector will be lost," Graham added.
Based on the REA's REView 2018, the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry employed 10,911 people in 2016/17, with installers accounting for a significant part of this. The projected new job losses would be in addition to the 9,000 jobs lost when the FiT was reformed in 2016.