The UK photovoltaic industry is facing an uncertain future after it emerged that it could face six months without state funding.

DTI grants for the photovoltaic programme, which funds research into generating electricity from sunlight, will be stopped in December.

It is not yet known if the industry will receive other sources of funding, as the government views photovoltaics as too expensive for domestic use. This is despite promises in 2003 that it would deliver a 10-year programme to “establish the UK as a credible player in the photovoltaics market, alongside Germany and Japan”.

The government has instead thrown its weight behind the Low Carbon Buildings Programme, which will offer millions of pounds to microgeneration projects that incorporate wind turbines, solar power or combined heat and power units.

Specific funding for the programme, which will run for six years from 1 April 2006, has yet to be allocated.

Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of photovoltaics supplier Solar Century, said: “The news comes as recent figures reveal that the UK solar PV market has fallen behind its major competitors. In 2004, the UK installed the equivalent of 1100 roofs. In the same year, Germany installed the equivalent of 180,000.”