Storm clouds hit solar firms

DOC Soplar panels family workforce - Janet and Derek Green with their son Craig
DOC Soplar panels family workforce - Janet and Derek Green with their son Craig
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THE boss of an award-winning former Wigan solar power firm has blasted on-going changes to renewable power tariffs for sinking his business.

Just weeks after having to fold his DOC Solar and Electrical company, engineer Dr Derek Green has hit out at the “confused” nature of Government energy policy because of the uncertainty it was creating in the minds of customers looking for a long term solution to rising heating and lighting bills.

At its height, the business he founded with his wife Janet was employing up to 10 people which made up panel fitting teams and had smart premises in the Cricket Street Business Park, complete with a specially-built suite to demonstrate the latest generation of photovoltaic panels working in situ.

Now he has returned to lecturing in electrical engineering at Wigan and Leigh College and his wife returned to industry amid changes that a Government which came to power claiming to be “the greenest ever” is now anything but.

Chancellor George Osborne also used his Autumn Statement to announce that the price power producers receive for solar electricity will be reduced in favour of a greater investment in offshore windfarms.

Mr Green said that them continual threat to maintaining “green” power tariffs was depressing customer confidence in the ability of a technology that needed a significant up-front investment to pay for itself.

He added that it was ironic that the Government had made the latest announcement affecting the attractiveness of solar power for the future, only a matter of hours before a huge storm – directly linked say environmental scientists to carbon-fuelled climate change – hit the shores of Britain.

Dr Green said: “We had to shut the business down because the way the Government kept changing their policy towards renewables meant that we couldn’t make a living.

”We had been going for six years but with the mixed messages coming out of Treasury it left us in a position where it was impossible to continue.

“Nationally at least a third of the solar companies that were in business three years ago have now, like us, gone altogether, which is quite a statistic.”