By Marcus Leach
Britain’s renewable energy specialists reacted angrily today to comments made by the Climate Change Minister Greg Barker who seemed to be bragging about making spending cuts.
Mr Barker, who proposed a 72% cut in the feed-in-tariff for the solar industry last month, told a Business School in South Carolina that the Government were ‘making cuts that Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s could only have dreamt of’.
Speaking of the cut to medium sized solar installations Ray Noble of the Renewable Energy Association said: “This is an absolute disaster, no new projects will start if this proposal becomes law. This industry has been strangled at birth. The huge number of envisaged new jobs will disappear.”
Mr Barker, who is touring the US, also told Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York, that Britain’s next generation of nuclear and renewable energy sources will ‘come at a cost’ to consumers.
“There’s no point in trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes and tell them these things come for free. They come at a cost,” he said.
Ken Moss, CEO of British solar developer mO3 Power, reacted angrily to Mr Barkers comments.
“Everybody knows that feed-in-tariffs and solar subsidies are paid for by increased energy bills to consumers. What is so upsetting is the way the DECC wants to distribute the money. We have to develop all means of low-carbon energy production but by effectively ending the British solar industry in its infancy the DECC is drastically reducing our options,” he said.
Mr Noble said: “Nuclear is likely to face new International Atomic Energy Agency regulations, which will most likely increase the price, and along with more public concern the building of any new Nuclear Power Station is likely to be delayed. By contrast Solar can be deployed starting immediately and with prices falling rapidly could well represent the best value for money long term with no risks.”
The Climate Change Minister’s remarks will certainly annoy David Cameron who has always insisted that cutting public spending is a necessity and not Conservative ideology.
A Conservative Party source said that Mr Barker had made an ‘unfortunate choice of words’ and that ‘dreamt of’ made the size of the cuts sound ‘aspirational’.