A solar energy firm has quit the UK after complaining it doesn’t receive enough taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Zep Solar UK, which is backed by billionaire inventor Elon Musk, accused the government of not doing enough to support the industry
A spokesman for the firm said: “We had been exploring opportunities in the UK but based on the [Department for Energy and Climate Change] decision we’re left to conclude that the UK government doesn’t support solar development. We’ve put expansion plans to the UK on hold indefinitely and will focus efforts elsewhere.”
In a sign of how the renewable energy sector is becoming increasingly dependent on government hand-outs, The Guardian reports that the company is now the fourth solar business to cease trading in the space of a fortnight following cuts to state subsidies.
In February, green campaigners told the British government that £4 billion in renewable energy subsidies was not enough. Friends of the Earth said ministers should be “investing far more on the UK’s huge renewable energy potential,” while solar companies complained they were not being given a big enough share.
Paul Barwell of the Solar Trade Association said: “The soon-to-be cheapest and most popular renewable – solar power – has lost out in a complex auction scheme that favours big players and genuinely established technologies. Is a policy that trips up the UK’s emerging solar industry really a successful policy? We don’t think so.”
However, John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation criticised the lobbyists, saying: “This industry is behaving like a spoiled brat – you can never give it enough subsidies, it will always want more. They have to grow up and come into the real world and compete.”
In June, the wind farm industry even threatened the government with legal action if subsidies were pulled. Writing in The Guardian, Marcus Trinick QC attacked “rabid” and “pitchfork” waving Tories with a “visceral hatred of the appearance of wind turbines”.
He warned: “Please be aware of the dangers of [EU] state aid discrimination and look at what is happening in international energy arbitration across Europe. In such a position we could not afford not to fight, especially if action is taken to interfere retrospectively.”
The current Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, said that while she was concerned at any job losses, she had to control costs for consumers.