On December 12th the Government went ahead with plans to amend the rates which home owners and communities can make for producing low-carbon energy.
Greenpeace and two of the major solar panel installation companies, Solarcentury and HomeSun, have announced that they are to challenge this decision by judicial review in the High Court.
The Government decision concerns 'feed-in tariffs' which were introduced by the Energy Act 2008. The tariffs afford homeowners who install low-carbon energy sources such as solar panels a financial incentive to offset against the cost of installation.
This includes a payment for every kilowatt hour of energy produced even if it is used by the property itself, and an additional 'export tariff' payment for any surplus given back to the grid.
The scheme has proved to be hugely popular, with many solar panel installation businesses operating at capacity for several months with a backlog of orders.
The Government was concerned about the level of subsidisation, given that installation costs had begun to fall as businesses in the industry were competing for work. This prompted a consultation which began in October 2011 to look at the solar panel market in particular.
The consultation has not yet been completed, and yet despite this the Government has gone ahead with plans to reduce the rates paid under the feed-in tariff scheme from April 2012 on all systems installed after 12th December 2011.
This has led to a dramatic fall in the number of homeowners looking to benefit from the scheme, with many installation jobs cancelled or put on hold due to the uncertainty.
"The Government's rushed plans to slash subsidies have pulled the plug on countless schemes and threaten thousands of jobs," said Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins.
"We agree that the falling cost of installation means that solar payments should come down, but the speed and scale of the cuts have had a devastating impact on a thriving industry," he added.
Feed-in tariff scheme (Energy Saving Trust)
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