The government has recently announced plans to axe the ‘export tariff’ for new solar installations - in what for many was a surprise move.
Twenty two MPs took part in a pitch-black photo shoot to illustrate this ‘daylight robbery’ and the threat to new solar homes next year.
Participants included Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewis, Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead, Conservative MP David Amess, Green MP Caroline Lucas and SNP energy spokespeople Drew Hendry and Alan Brown.
The export tariff is a fair market payment for clean power exported to the grid from solar homes and buildings.
If these plans go through, householders, schools, churches and other public buildings undertaking new solar projects will be forced to effectively donate the excess clean electricity they generate to big energy companies for free.
The proposal runs counter to new EU laws which requires governments to ensure people are paid ‘at a fair market rate’ for the clean power they contribute to the grid.
A recent YouGov poll by campaign group 10:10 shows over 70 percent of people want to see the UK Government follow suit and continue to pay people fairly for the clean power they produce.
The campaigners, which include the Solar Trade Association, 10:10 Climate Action, UK Youth Climate Coalition, NFU, ECA and Community Energy England, are calling on the government for fair treatment of rooftop solar with a fair export tariff guaranteed after March 2019.
Max Wakefield lead campaigner at 10:10 said: “What the government proposes is daylight robbery – literally. Like a vampire this move threatens to suck the life out of the solar industry.
"We urge every one of our lawmakers to get behind our campaign for basic fair treatment for solar homes and communities.
"Action on climate change, solar jobs and clean power for ordinary households, businesses and community organisations is at stake.”
Sir David Amess MP added: “The solar industry has taken the UK from near zero to over a million installations in just 8 years. In doing so solar costs have come tumbling down - but it stands to reason even cheap energy still needs payment for the power it provides.
That’s why I’m backing this campaign to ensure fair treatment for new solar households and businesses. The clean energy and jobs of tomorrow are at stake”
Caroline Lucas MP said: “The British public love solar - nine out of ten people back it, and three out of every 5 would like to install solar panels themselves.
"The government’s bizarre plans to stop homes and businesses being paid for the clean power they produce will make this all but impossible.
"I’m calling on the energy minister Claire Perry to bring government policy in line with the public’s desire for clean energy at a fair price.”
Leonie Greene, new markets director at the Solar Trade Association added: “We are very grateful for the support these MPs have given. It is extraordinary & very sad that we are having to fight for basic fair market treatment for people who want to install solar power in future.
"Solar is now very affordable so it is vital that Government doesn’t create new nonsensical barriers to people & communities all over the UK who want to go solar.”
Marianne Brooker is a contributing editor for The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from 10:10. You can read more about their Daylight Robbery campaign here.