1,000 solar jobs at risk if DETI shines green light on ROC reduction
By Eleanor McGillie
UP to 1,000 jobs are at risk if the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) gives the go ahead to reduce the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROCs) incentive which has been driving the solar PV sector forwards, claims NISTA.
NISTA (Northern Ireland Solar Trade Association) members attended a meeting this week with the Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee to inform them that the proposed incentive drop would decimate the industry which is investing over £20 million per year into the local economy.
Proposals currently on the table could see a reduction in the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) payments which are passed on to homeowners and businesses who install solar panels. Under present regulations these micro-generators of solar energy receive 16.32 pence for every unit of electricity generated. But if implemented, the new proposals will see this payment reduced to 6.53 pence. By contrast across the rest of the UK, small solar energy generators receive an index-linked 14.38 pence per unit.
Neil O’Brien, chairman of NISTA, told the Committee that 1,000 jobs could be lost across installation teams, managers, energy consultants, designers and admin personnel.
He said: “The solar industry in Northern Ireland has the potential to double in size over the next two to three years if we are to achieve levels of solar PV deployment as other UK regions. There are significant opportunities across the Island of Ireland, and growth in GB markets, making obvious contributions to jobs, wealth creation, carbon reduction and energy independence.
“Our position on the impact of the proposed changes to NIROC for solar PV in Northern Ireland is clear. If these reductions are enforced it will destroy what is a blossoming indigenous industry.
“For something so negative to happen to a sector which is contributing so positively is mind boggling. The Executive has set a target of 40 per cent electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020. Yet, here we are in a situation whereby we are campaigning for the Department not to reduce their own scheme which it devised to incentivise renewable energy generation. It’s particularly galling as it is not funded from the block grant or impacting on Stormont budgets.”
NISTA members told the Committee that over 5,000 installations in the region are generating over 25MW of renewable electricity per year. A total of 99 per cent of these installations are small (under 50kW in size), with over 90 per cent producing between 3 and 7kW on domestic roofs.
Mr O’Brien added: “This is a great achievement which has been made possible by the valuable work of many public and private stakeholders, not least of which are DETI and its Renewable Energy team.
“However, Northern Ireland still lags significantly behind Great Britain in PV uptake, representing only one per cent of installed PV and significantly under 1 per cent of electricity produced in UK solar terms. There would need to be a 300-400 per cent increase in solar PV deployment here to catch up with our GB counterparts.”
NISTA has asked DETI to make no changes to Solar PV support measures for at least 12 months to enable an informed and evidence based proposal which maintains and grows the industry, and empowers NI to catch up with the rest of GB in solar energy deployment.
Notes To Editor:
- The Northern Ireland Solar Trade Association (NISTA) is the trade association comprising members of the Solar PV Industry, formed to represent the interests of the sector and promote solar energy in the region.
- For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 | mgmpr.co.uk | Renewable Energy PR | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism Experts