UK TO CUT SOLAR SUBSIDIES, MPs CALL FOR WIND CUTS
The United Kingdom announced plans last week to reduce solar energy subsidies starting July 1 after an installation boom nearly exhausted its budget last year. "Costs are coming down, and we’re determined that the tariff comes down with it," Energy Minister Greg Barker said. "This is a very ambitious scheme and good news for the industry." Installations have increased significantly since the subsidies were announced in April 2010, and last year Britain installed three percent of the world's new solar panels. The cuts follow the lead of Germany and Spain to control a surge in solar installations after Chinese companies boosted production of panels, pushing prices lower. The rolling cuts will reduce the feed-in tariffs, which guarantee above-market rates, every six months, and will reduce subsidies further if a certain level of installations is passed. The move could save the UK an estimated 700 million English pounds ($1.1 billion) by 2014-15. Meanwhile, more than 100 conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) have written to the Prime Minister requesting wind energy subsidy cuts. The government plans on making wind energy 15 percent of the nation's energy mix by 2015, but the MPs questioned funding "inefficient and intermittent energy production" in "straitened times." Though the UK recently opened the world's largest offshore wind farm, the MPs wrote that wind power is currently less cost-effective than fossil fuels. For the full story, see http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-09/u-k-sets-rolling-solar-subsidy-cuts-sees-22-gigawatt-capacity.html. For the story on wind, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16893018.