Cairngorm sees ray of light with tough times ahead

The firm's solar panels have been in demand. Picture: Contributed

The firm's solar panels have been in demand. Picture: Contributed

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Home improvement group Cairngorm has seen a surge in demand for solar panels ahead of cuts in the level of payments to energy-generating households.

Government subsidies are set to fall by 65 per cent from February in a move which solar power firms have warned will undermine the industry and hinder climate change targets. David Dowling, managing director of Inverness-based Cairngorm, said his company has fitted 1,000 panels in the past eight weeks amid the rush to beat the deadline. “These payment cuts can’t be backdated so people and firms are keen to future-proof their costs by having panels installed before the cut-off point,” he said. “The uncertainty has made it difficult for the industry, but in the meantime it’s been boom time for us as the north’s biggest supplier and installer.”

Solar panels have been an important cash stream during the downturn for Cairngorm, which has installed 13,000 panels during the past four years.

It averaged 100 panels per month in 2014, with sales in the current year up by more than 50 per cent.

The group, which employs 100 people, also supplies conservatories, windows, garage doors and kitchens.

Dowling said it will continue to supply solar panels after February, but with subsidies falling to 35 per cent, “demand levels will inevitably drop”.

“With the new global climate change deal recently signed in Paris, it seems odd that the UK government is pulling the rug from under the solar power industry which sustains 27,000 jobs,” he added.

The total installed capacity of solar photo-voltaic systems north of the Border now stands at 179 megawatts, according to figures this week.

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