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Jenny Willott MP

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Jenny Willott

Government Betraying Wales' Micro-Renewables Industry

November 19, 2007 12:00 AM

Today, Jenny Willott MP released new figures showing that the cap the Government has added to household grants for installing micro-renewables is seriously damaging Wales' fledgling micro-renewables industry.

In April, the Government cut the maximum household grant for installing micro-renewable systems under its flagship policy, the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) from £15,000 to £2,500.

Figures contained in an answer to a Parliamentary Question from Miss Willott, reveal that since April, grant money awarded to Welsh households under the LCBP, has fallen by nearly 30%.

The figures show that the more powerful and expensive units have been worst hit in Wales with an 84% decline in grant money allocated for solar PV's and a 40% decline in the number of grants given for micro-wind turbine projects to Welsh households.

Commenting, Jenny said:

"The Government is pulling the rug from underneath Wales' fledgling micro-renewables industry and is in danger of sucking the enthusiasm out of an environmentally conscious Welsh public.

"Ministers claim that by 2050, 40% of the UK's electricity needs could be met by micro-renewables. But they are completely failing to back this up. In fact, the Government wastes more money everyday in tax credits overpayments than it provides every year in grants for installing micro-renewables.

"The Government changed the old micro-renewables grants system because it couldn't cope with the popularity it had amongst households. But the new system has now made micro-renewables prohibitively expensive for many Welsh families.

"Unlike conventional energy generation, micro-renewables don't emit carbon from burning fossil fuels and they don't waste heat through cooling towers or in transporting electricity hundreds of miles. What's more, energy bills are reduced and you can sell on any excess electricity generated to the grid.

"The Government is supposed to be encouraging people to go green and in the process stimulating the growth of a potentially highly profitable new industrial sector. Instead, it appears to be doing everything it can to undermine it."

Bruce Cross, Managing Director of PV Systems in Taffs Well, and chair of the Renewable Energy Association PV group, said:

"The enquiry level for domestic PV has fallen to 20% of what it was this time last year. The majority of small PV installation companies are laying off staff and or turning to other work.

"It is sad that the government spent 5 years financing the training of skilled installers and supporting a fledgling industry only to abandon that investment when it was about to take to its wings.

"The disturbing reality is that the industry in Europe is a thousand times bigger that the UK and without a home market we will not have an industry to take advantage when the UK finally recognises that it needs PV."

Alex Murley, Small Systems Manager at the British Wind Energy Association, added:

"The LCBP is not delivering. The UK micro- and small-wind industry can become world leaders if government works with industry to build sufficient support now."