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Feed-in Tariffs

Volume 545: debated on Thursday 17 May 2012

8. What assessment he has made of the change in the number of solar panel installations since he announced changes to the feed-in tariff. (107617)

When we announced proposals to reform the feed-in tariffs scheme for solar PV at the end of October 2011, approximately 126,000 solar PV installations were registered on the microgeneration certification scheme database. Since then, an additional 190,000 installations have been registered. In the 10 weeks since the introduction of new tariffs for small-scale installations on 3 March, more than 26,000 solar PV installations have been registered. That is equivalent to the installation rate in August last year.

I hear what the Secretary of State says, and I heard what he said in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint), but I can tell him that in my constituency there has been a catastrophic collapse in the demand for feed-in tariffs. It has been particularly catastrophic for small businesses which have invested many thousands of pounds of their own money in what would have been a very positive regime. Will the Secretary of State clarify, very soon, what will happen after July, so that my constituents who have invested money in this scheme can ensure that they will still have their businesses in October and at the end of the year?

We will respond to the consultation very shortly, but I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that installation rates are already increasing, although there was a downturn after the introduction of the new tariff. I think there is a sunny future for the solar industry.

We are soon to see a new generation of highly efficient solar panels, and we are also soon to see efficient domestic battery storage technologies. Combining that with a mass programme of insulation and a Severn barrage would remove the need for nuclear generation. Will the Government think again about the need for it?

The uncertainty surrounding climate change, and surrounding all technologies, is such that it would be irresponsible not to pursue every possible low-carbon technology. The hon. Gentleman is right to suggest that renewables have a positive future, as does solar power. We propose to deliver an additional 620,000 installations at a cost of just £500 million by 2015—that is, to deliver nearly three times as many installations as were delivered under the old scheme, at a third of the price.