Government accused of putting solar jobs at risk

Public buildings respond to government calls to apply for renewable installation grants

Just weeks after calling on schools, hospitals and other public buildings to apply for grants to install renewable energy technologies, the government has quietly closed part of its grant programme after running out of money.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed last week that it would no longer accept applications for grants to install solar photovoltaic panels on public buildings under its Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) as the allocated share of half the £50m grant fund had already been used up.

It said applications for funding for PV installations received after February 26 would no longer be approved.

The move was slammed by the renewables industry, which accused the government of leaving a funding gap that would put jobs at risk as it finalises plans for a feed in tariff that is not expected to be introduced until next year.

"There are some of our members that are having to think about laying people off," said Leonnie Greene of the Renewable Energy Association (REA). "The government is leaving the sector to face terrible uncertainty."

Climate Change and Energy Secretary Ed Miliband has hinted some form of new support scheme could be put in place for the micro renewables industry until the feed in tariff takes effect and talks are on-going with the industry.

However, the REA insists more urgent action is required if the solar sector is to build up the capacity required ahead of an expected increase in demand when the feed in tariff is rolled out next year.

It recommended that the £12m to £15m that remains in the LCBP budget and is earmarked for other technologies should be opened up to solar PV applications immediately, adding that based on the current rate of applications, £8m will otherwise remain unspent when the scheme ends this June.

It also called on the government to confirm that any micro-renewable technologies installed this year will be eligible for above market rates for the energy they generate when the feed in tariff is introduced.

"This latest disaster in the Low Carbon Buildings Programme is completely at odds with the Green New Deal we hear so much about," said REA's director

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