Survey shows further 576 workers already made redundant in over 200 solar companies

As was reported by the BBC over the weekend, a survey of 204 solar companies by the Solar Trade Association shows 576 people have already been made redundant with a further 1,600 people on notice for next year if extreme cuts go through.

The survey covers nearly 10% of the primary solar sector [1] and has today been published in full on the Solar Trade Association’s website [2].

This is in addition to the 1,200 solar job losses reported over the last few months in the media at the three solar companies that have already gone bankrupt [3].

This brings the confirmed running total of jobs in the solar industry that have been lost to almost 1,800, with thousands more likely.

If the findings reflect the whole industry, which currently consists of over 2,000 companies with solar as a primary business focus, then 6,500 jobs could have already been lost in the solar sector with a further 18,500 on notice.

The Solar Trade Association has previously estimated that 27,000 jobs out of a total of 35,000 in the solar industry and its supply chain could be at risk, an estimate the survey supports.

The survey shows the essential need for Government to move swiftly to secure the sector, says the trade body.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association commented:

“Those 1,800 jobs that we know have already gone represent technical skills and experience that has been built up in the solar industry over the last five years. It is this very supply chain and know-how that is essential to delivering low-cost solar. And yet the Government is at risk of throwing many more of these jobs away.”

Critically these redundancies have come before the Government has even made a final decision on cuts to the solar Feed-in Tariff. A number were also made before even the public consultation on the different options closed at the end of October.

The survey also found that the typical salary of the jobs at risk was between 20k and £30k a year.

The Solar Trade Association and a group of cross-party MPs from all political parties including the Conservatives are urging the Government to adopt the STA’s ‘£1 emergency solar rescue plan’ [4], which would safeguard many of the jobs at risk.

The plan was raised by MPs no less than three times in a Westminster Hall debate last week. The plan would only add an extra £1 per year on average household energy bills from 2019 for new solar deployed over the next three years – enough to power the equivalent of 875,000 homes. This alternative plan would allow solar to continue in the UK while giving the Government the cost control guarantees it needs.

Anonymous quotes from businesses

Please find below some anonymous quotes from businesses who completed the survey:

“We place a high value on apprenticeships and training and if the full proposed cuts do go ahead we will be forced to let our current apprentices go.”

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“The whole business is at risk, we may have to restructure to remove renewables and change back to electrical contracting, which would mean losing five jobs.”

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“After eight years building a renewable energy business this is a very difficult time for us. To see a government simply destroy all the good ground that has been made will be a legacy that will stick with the Cameron, Osborne and Rudd trio for a long time.”


Notes to Editors

[1] The primary solar sector is defined by TBR as firms with direct activity only and excludes the supply chain. As part of the method firms were allocated to a single primary sector based on their main activity. From TBR ‘The Size and Performance of the Low Carbon Economy’, March 2015: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/416240/bis-15-206-size-and-performance-of-uk-low-carbon-economy.pdf
[2] The full survey report can be found here: http://www.solar-trade.org.uk/sta-briefing-s-survey-nov-15/
[3] Mark Group Ltd, Climate Energy Ltd and Southern Solar Ltd are all solar businesses that have gone into administration since the election and the proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariffs.
[4] More detail on the STA’s £1 emergency solar rescue plan can be found here: http://www.solar-trade.org.uk/sta-1-plan-feed-in-tariff-proposals/

For further information or to request an interview, please contact:

Name: Sonia Dunlop
Title: Communications and Public Affairs Manager
Tel: 0203 637 2946 or 07970 795 278
Main line: 0203 637 2945

Background on the Solar Trade Association:

The mission of the Solar Trade Association is to empower the UK solar transformation. We are paving the way for solar to deliver the maximum possible share of UK energy by 2030 by enabling a bigger and better solar industry. We represent both solar heat and power, and have a proven track record of winning breakthroughs for solar PV and solar thermal.