Plans to cut solar subsidies may contravene European agreements to source 15% of energy from renewables by 2020

The government could face legal action from the European Commission over its decision to cut subsidies for solar power.

In October the government announced its intention to cut the feed-in tariff for solar power from 43p per kWh to 21p per kWh, causing outrage from the industry which anticipates a dramatic drop in demand for solar panel installations as a result.

However, the UK is obliged to source 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 under the Renewable Energy Directive 2009.

On Friday the European Commission issued a statement in response to a question from Green MEP Jean Lambert, which said: “Should the UK or any member state weaken policies in such a way that it would threaten progress towards their targets, the Commission would take action, launching legal proceedings if necessary.”

“Whenever member states revise their support for support schemes for renewable energy, they need to do so in a manner which does not destabilise the renewable energy industry or risk undermining their own plans to achieve their 2020 targets,” it added.

Lambert said: “The government must now demonstrate that plans to slash the subsidy will not derail the UK from delivering 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.”

Today is the cut off date for solar power schemes to be registered to claim the current tariff level of 43p per kWh. Schemes registered after today will be paid this rate until April 2012 when it will be reduced to 21p per kWh, under the government’s plans.