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Solar Power

Volume 614: debated on Tuesday 13 September 2016

11. Whether his Department has received a copy of the report by PwC and the Solar Trade Association, published on 25 July 2016, on the state of the UK solar industry; and what his plans are for the future of solar power in the UK. (906284)

I welcome the question from a colleague I have enjoyed watching at work with his incisive questioning on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee—tragically, he is about to direct that questioning at me. I can assure him that my Department has received a copy of the PwC report and carefully noted its findings. As I have said, solar has been a great success story over the past few years. The goal, now that costs have been brought under control, is to move the industry towards having the capacity to deliver without subsidy.

I thank the Minister for his generous comments and for his time as Chair of the Select Committee that I serve on, and I wish him well in his new role.

The PwC report estimates that a third of jobs in solar have been lost in the past year, with a third of companies expecting to cut more staff in the next 12 months. As the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) and my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) have suggested, rateable value changes will affect the industry further. Will the Government take into account the cumulative effect and actually do something positive for the solar industry?

Of course I share the hon. Gentleman’s concerns about any job losses as a result of changes in the industry. I made some points earlier about the way in which the industry is changing, and I note that the report picked out the resilience of the industry and its capacity to respond to change, potentially including that offered by Brexit. I simply say that it is noticeable that many schemes are already close to being viable without subsidy, in certain circumstances, and the key now is to move further towards that. As I have said, we will look closely at the valuation issues he has highlighted today.