Subsidy cut sparks solar ‘stampede’

Matt Brailsford, managing director of Custom Solar in Chesterfield
Matt Brailsford, managing director of Custom Solar in Chesterfield

Huge cuts in solar electricity subsidies for business have sparked a stampede to have systems fitted before the axe falls.

The Government is set to cut the Feed In Tariff - a payment per unit of electricity generated - by 70 per cent. Crucially, to get the higher rate firms must have a system installed - and switched on - before the end of the year.

Matt Brailsford, managing director of Custom Solar in Chesterfield, said it had sparked an avalanche of enquiries from firms - amounting to potentially millions of pounds of orders.

He said: “Companies that had been thinking about it, sometimes for years, have been stung into action.

“We are absolutely to the hilt - we’re turning clients away.

“It won’t kill the commercial installation side, post deadline the earnings won’t be as good but firms will be shielded from electricity prices rises running at 13 per cent a year.”

The commercial subsidy cut comes in at the same time as an 87 per cent reduction for residential systems.

It is set to virtually shut down social housing, school and community installations, Matt added.

With returns of up to 15 per cent, investors have been happy to lend money for a school system because schools can make repayments from the subsidy and the energy bill savings.

He added: “It’s bad news for them - there will be nothing there for investors any more.”

It is set to be the second big hit for the solar industry after the subsidy was halved in 2012, pushing some firms out of business.

But the year-on-year rise in electricity costs - the dramatic fall in the cost of systems, ensures solar has a future, Matt added.

But the environment was set to suffer,

“The reduction in subsidies decrease the rate of take up renewables resulting in a greater reliance on fossil fuels and a potential return to large scale mining in the UK.

“Experts have forecast that fossil fuels will run out by 2030 and large scale reliance on power generated from gas and coal will cause this country significant problems in the future.”

Custom Solar employs 32.