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Solar-powered UK schools face an 800 percent tax increase

'It’s absurd.'
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US AIR FORCE / Reuters

Solar technology could face a huge hurdle in the United Kingdom. Schools and certain businesses with solar panels installed may see a 800 percent raise in taxes when a law goes into effect this April, according to The Independent. It's a harsh blow to the industry when you consider some 12,000 employees from the sector were laid off last year, and installation slowed by 85 percent according to the publication. It's something the Guardian says was caused by the end of subsidies for solar farms and and incentives for homeowners to add solar to their houses.

What's more, only public schools with the photovoltaic panels in England and Wales will have to pay the tax increase, while private schools are exempt. Schools in Scotland are left out as well.

Another Guardian article says that a school with "a typical" 10kW solar gathering system would pay around £800 per year ($973.29). It also reports that 821 schools outfitted with solar panels will have to pay an additional £800,000 ($973,916). "After assuming similar installation rates across the 174 authorities in England and Wales, that climbs to a total of about £1.8 million ($2,189,907)."

"This is slightly less than helpful for the British solar industry," the Solar Trade Association's Leonie Greene told The Independent. "It's absurd. Energy tax policy is going in the opposite direction to how we know energy needs to change and how it's changing. What he is doing is advantaging old technology and disadvantaging new ones. It's nonsensical."

Sounds familiar, no?

As a form of protest, kids from north London's Eleanor Palmer school in Camden collected some 200,000 signatures to "urgently rethink" the tax hikes as part of a Greenpeace campaign. They'll be delivered to England's Treasury Department on Thursday.

Surprising close to no one, the UK government defended the moves, saying that the taxes could lead to improvements for the schools in other ways without expanding on how.

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