Irish Jobs at Risk if Renewable Energy Scheme Ends
It has been announced by Jonathan Bell, the Enterprise Minister at Stormont, that an important Northern Irish subsidy scheme for renewable energy is to be scrapped. Companies operating in the renewable energy sector have expressed fears that the end of the scheme would likely mean significant job losses.
The Renewable Heat Incentive was set up to encourage both homes and businesses to move towards renewable sources of energy. A version of the scheme exists on the UK mainland as well, and it is only Northern Ireland’s branch of the scheme that has been announced as coming to an end.
Lack of Money
The reason given for the shutting down of the initiative is simply that the funding provided for it has run out. A spike in applications led to an overspend of £30 million and a subsequent investigation into 10% of the schemes approved.
On top of this, a change in funding rules by the UK Treasury has limited the amount of money that the UK government is contributing to Northern Ireland for the renewable energy scheme. This has left the Irish government with a lack of available funds for the scheme which, in combination with the £30 million overspend required to meet payments that have already been promised, has led to the decision to shut down.
Loss of Work
Like much of the developed world, Northern Ireland has been increasingly moving towards renewable energy sources. There are many providers of small-scale domestic and business renewable energy solutions like solar panels in Northern Ireland, such as http://www.solarpanelni.com/, and this has made it practical for homes and businesses to individually gain access to eco-friendly sources of electricity. The incentives and subsidies of the RHI have further served to encourage uptake.
However, installers of renewable energy technologies fear that they will lose millions of pounds’ worth of work if the scheme is indeed discontinued, as the incentives serve as a key driver of business for these companies at present. The sudden loss of these subsidies and the work associated with them would leave the companies, it is claimed, with large amounts of excess stock. Perhaps more importantly, they fear that it would also leave them with more staff than they could justify following the reduction in workload, leading to significant lay-offs in the sector.