The well publicised Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) reduction that was announced in 2011 is set to hit the headlines once again as 17 solar companies prepare to sue the government over the management of the cuts.
Essentially the government acted unlawfully by introducing the cuts before the consultation period had actually ended. They tried at the time to introduce cuts much sooner than expected – December 2011 rather than in April 2012 – which they had previously agreed. As a result many in the industry were faced with a mad dash to finish installations before the new deadlines and suddenly there was lots of uncertainty about which rates homeowners installing between December and April would receive. At the time the cuts were challenged successfully in the high courts, however, in a bid to create more uncertainty and prevent more installations, the government appealed the high court’s ruling simply as a time wasting measure.
The initial announcement was totally unexpected and out of the blue as up until this point the government had pledged support, and optimism for renewable energies and saw solar panels as a must have essential to save valuable energy, preserve fossil fuel usage and promote renewable energy. It is little wonder then that the government’s actions hugely dented the confidence of consumers and investors looking to get on board with the solar PV boom. Many people who had invested in new renewable energy businesses set-up to cope with the increasing demand suddenly found they had over invested as the cuts saw an immediate and sharp drop in demand.
2012 was a difficult year for the solar industry, however the solar companies that survived are now looking to sue the government and use the proceeds to cover any losses and trade properly in 2013 to fulfil the returning consumer demand. The claim being led by Prospect Law has seen an initial claim from three companies in July 2012 for £2.2m to 17 companies all filing a claim against the FiT tariff changes that caused a disastrous year of trading for their business.
The companies bringing the legal claim are Solar Power PV, Solarlec, Crystal Windows and Doors, Breyer Group, Freetricity, E-tricity, Foz Electrical, Green Home, CI Installations, Viscount Solar, Vsolar, House Choice, Evo Energy, Solar Panels Direct, Monitor My Solar, Apollo Energy, and Cleaner Air Solutions.
So what has been happening to the solar industry in 2012?
Well aside from the ongoing legal battle, the solar industry is showing signs of improving and the government promises that the FiT amendment will remain stable, that is the good news.
The sun is set to shine once again on solar this year with the workforce growing to in excess of 25,000 people – consumer confidence is growing and in turn demand is set to continue. Certainly demand is growing for solar renewable energy courses – this is sure sign that the industry is showing a healthy recovery. In addition to solar PV installation courses, there is growing interest and demand for solar PV sales and renewable energy awareness courses. This is surely a sign that the solar industry is determined to power on ahead and let nothing get in their way.