SOLIHULL: In his recent DECC blog, Minister for Energy & Climate Change Gregory Baker outlined plans to bring down the costs of solar installations for consumers. The lack of information on how his taskforce intends to drive down solar installation costs that the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) has described as "being of concern". 

Mr Barker's comments on the drop in the cost of solar products and how he has set up a 'cost reduction taskforce' with industry to help reduce installation costs was in a bid to provide stability and certainty following the recent spate of cuts to the Feed in Tariffs (FiT) and the delays in the launch of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.

"With the cost of panels and inverters coming down significantly, I now want to work on bringing the price of installation down," Mr Barker.

"That is why I have set up a cost reduction taskforce with the industry to help do just that. We will also update our vision for renewables later this year to reflect solar's increasingly important role in meeting our renewables targets."

John Thompson, APHC chief executive said: "While we welcome the move to stabilise the renewable industry, we are concerned about this Cost Reduction Task Force and how small businesses are going to be affected by this.

"The solar industry is becoming increasingly competitive,"Mr Thompsson said. "You only have to look in the trade press to see the number of manufacturers and installers increasing almost monthly. This has helped lower installation costs thus far. We are becoming concerned that many small businesses, which are already seeing their margins squeezed by the current economic conditions and various schemes, are going to be pushed too far.

"The choice facing many SMEs is going to be to either compete, potentially at a loss or with a lower quality of workmanship, or leave the renewable industry altogether."

Mr Thompson concluded: "I would urge those taking part in this taskforce to consider all sectors of the industry before making any conclusions that could see many smaller businesses priced out of the solar installation market, especially at a time when the Government are trying to get people interested in the Green Deal."