UK energy policy is sure one confusing and constantly changing subject, with many recent news stories no deviation from this pattern. Us English and our government just love mixing and muddling our energy futures as much as we cash, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, and sometimes it seems like it’s just for the kicks.
A little over half a year ago, I went to an open day for a course in environmental technology, energy and renewables at Imperial College London, and there I was given a brief talk regarding one of the key course options, aptly named ‘Energy Policy’. This was all very interesting and the main reason I intend to do a master there, but there was one particular comment which stuck with me, made by the course convenor.
He stated halfway through his introduction that, as a whole, “the UK government has tried every single energy policy ever thought of, and failed at most of them”. I feel this comment is pretty appropriate given the latest news on that very subject, of which I’ll brush over below.
Of late, the UK government and David Cameron have come to the decision to cut the solar feed-in-tariffs (FiTs) which are music to every solar-owner ears, which effectively pay the user for producing clean solar energy and feeding it back into the grid. This once sat at 21p per KWh, but is set to drop to 16p by August 1st, with similar drops on a 3 monthly basis, until the price is either frozen or adjusted once more.
This idea has provoked a stern response from many consumers of solar energy, who feel that these uncertain prices and abrupt slashes will deeply hurt the UK solar industry, which as we all know, is absolutely booming, both here and globally, and would be detrimental to everyone. However, these cuts must be made if the government is to be financially able to continue providing such FiTs, although many could argue their seemingly pointless endeavours into fossil fuel and nuclear could easily be rerouted to this sector.
On the other hand, this new FiT is still highly competitive in the global market, and as we’ve seen in Germany, has continued to drive strong growth in solar sales and installations, and so we shouldn’t be too hasty to condemn it.