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Solar Survey Respondents Reveal Third of UK Solar Jobs Lost

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Solar Panels by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

A third of solar jobs have been lost in the past year and a further 30% of solar businesses are expected to cut staff in the next 12 months.

The 238 solar industry firms surveyed said they collectively employed 3,665 people now compared to 5,362 a year ago, a fall of 32 per cent. 4 in 10 firms are being forced to either exit the solar market entirely or diversify into other markets to keep their heads above water.

Extrapolating the survey findings across the UK solar industry, the figure for job losses over the past year could exceed 12,500 – around one third of previous total employment in the solar industry, the Solar Trade Association found.

Solar deployment this year is expected to fall from an average of 1GW of past 5 years, to less than 300MW this year, a 75% drop.

The Solar Trade Association has long been concerned by the lack of an industrial strategy for the UK solar industry despite solar increasingly dominating global energy investments. The UK Government is today allocating only 1% of new renewable energy project expenditure to solar power under the Feed-in Tariff. The new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy therefore represents a very welcome opportunity to take a strategic approach to a winning and relatively cheap technology.

Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association said, “The survey shows very regrettable damage to the fabric of the British solar industry and the need for prompt Government action. Shockingly, since we undertook the survey, business investors in solar are set to be hit with a 6-8 fold rise in business rates.

We urge new Ministers, rather than increase the tax burden of going solar, please reward investment with sensible solar tax breaks consistent with action on climate change. International experience of tax breaks is solid, and the industry is clearly behind this.

There are many good economic reasons to back the British solar including minimising the cost of decarbonising our power supply to retain competitiveness, while creating exceptionally large numbers of jobs. Our economy faces a major challenge post Brexit; if we want to prosper in future we must strengthen the UK stake in booming global markets – they don’t come bigger than solar.”

John Dashwood, PwC Head of Renewables, Assurance said,  “These survey results show there will be a structural shift in the market and solar players need to consider alternative products, services and markets. Our report highlights the kind of innovation that can secure a positive future for solar energy in the UK.”

The solar industry undoubtedly faces some serious challenges, but it has already proved resilient and adaptable.

Nearly half of the respondents see new build as a key sub market this year. Moves by the Scottish Government to improve new build standards are creating opportunities and it appears that the new London Mayor will also move to support solar deployment across the capital. One in eight respondents are also looking to take their skills overseas to secure business opportunities, with Africa and North America the key markets they are looking to expand into.

The solar industry has had a tumultuous year. Deployment in domestic solar has dropped 80% for domestic solar under the Feed-in Tariff compared to this time last year. Commercial solar roofs deployment under FITs is capped at just 15MW per quarter and there is uncertainty about the extent to which Corporate Social Responsibility concerns will sustain investment in the short term. The Renewables Obligation was in effect closed to solar in July 2015. No future auction rounds under Contracts-for-Difference for Solar are anticipated.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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