The U.K. decided Friday to give up using government subsidies that support the purchases of commercial solar thermal panels.
The thermal panel subsidy was doled out through the renewable heat incentive (RHI) – which launched in 2015 to help Europeans use supposedly clean technology to provide heating and hot water.
Critics of the move are howling.
A handful of green energy insiders suggested the government is “discriminating” against the solar industry – and against thermal solar panels in particular. Still, others in the industry claim solar companies simply cannot get along without government largesse.
“Billions of pounds of investment is needed in order to replace ageing energy infrastructure, maintain secure energy supplies and meet our legally binding climate change targets,” Angus MacNeil, a Scottish National party MP, and chair of the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Committee, told reporters.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee warned Wednesday that the government’s policies would devastate the solar industry, and ultimately add nearly $170 a year to household energy bills.
The government, for its part, pushed back against such criticisms, telling naysayers the solar thermal subsidy received, by far, the most monetary support among the technologies clamoring for money from the RHI. Government officials also noted that nearly half of people installing thermal panels admitted they would have bought them without the subsidies.
Critics argue the UK’s move is not surprising; eventually governments have to decide if it is wise to continue funneling money to industries not needing the support, some argue.
Government agencies “only have so much money to go around — and giving money to customers who would already purchase them (panels) anyway doesn’t make much sense,” Dan Kish, senior vice president of policy at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The government supports these solar subsidy schemes, and then turns around and wonders why they need to keep doing it when the money runs out,” Kish continued.
He suggested Europeans countries – or at least a handful of countries – are figuring out the problems associated with the solar subsidy “scheme” before the U.S. “They are doing this [revoking solar subsidies] all over Europe, except in the United States.”
Still, the UK’s solar industry is up in arms.
“The government acknowledges the many benefits of solar thermal, yet proposes singling it out for the removal of financial support,” Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA), told reporters.
The STA, for its part, represents an industry hit by government cuts to solar electricity (PV) subsidies. Barwell said the cuts “simply don’t make sense.”
The government should be “full-square behind this technology” Barwell told reporters Friday, further adding that the UK is sending “a terrible message to households” by discriminating against thermal solar panels.
He said he believes the thermal solar industry will be decimated by the subsidy cuts.
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