China is investing heavily in the development of renewable energy, despite tumbling oil and gas prices, but the UK appears to be going in the opposite direction.
In 2014, for example, China invested $90 billion, more than any other country. In particular it has has been fast expanding its solar power industry and has built a large number of solar farms in the Gobi Desert. Many scientists believe the UK government should also be promoting and investing in solar power, especially after the Brexit vote, when we should be seeking to develop modern, future-proof industries.
But that does not seem to be what is happening, as one of Pod Academy’s contributors, Professor Keith Barnham has said today. In a letter to The Guardian, he points out that under government plans, prudent state schools which invested in solar panels to reduce their electricity bills may now face a retrospective six to eight fold hike in their tax rates (private schools, academies and free schools which are charities will be exempt). In July this year it was estimated that 12,000 jobs in the solar industry would be lost in the UK as a result of cuts in subsidies, and these latest tax rises (due to come into force in April next year) are likely to make things worse.
“This is yet another blow to the solar industry, already reeling from four separate subsidy cuts since May 2015. UK solar had been expanding exponentially, creating many new jobs and reducing our carbon emissions.” writes Professor Barnham.
Our podcast, Solar Power, the burning answer features Professor Barnham talking to Radu Sporea.