The UK solar industry has reacted with dismay and anger to the Coalition Government’s proposed reform of the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme unveiled last Friday.
Under the terms of the proposed reform, solar installations over 50 kW could see their FITs slashed by between 50% and 75%.
The Government is justifying their proposals by saying that they will protect financing for smaller domestic installations, which could risk being eaten up by larger schemes installed by businesses and communities.
“Whilst we are relieved that the sub 50kW sector has been left untouched for the time being and that installations already accredited will not be affected, we are surprised and concerned by the depth of proposed cuts,” says Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council.
Although the majority of domestic and small-scale installations not included in the fast-track review will be safe for at least another year, the Micropower Council warns that many organisations such as schools and hospitals will be affected by the changes.
The reduction in feed-in tariffs could make many of these larger community-scale solar schemes financially unviable, the Council warns.
The curtailment of such schemes could stop the burgeoning solar photovoltaic industry in its tracks, the Council also cautions.
“Setting the threshold at this level is counterproductive in terms of Government’s aim to promote an ambitious roll-out of decentralised domestic and community-scale technologies. The proposed tariff reductions will affect investor confidence badly investor confidence in the sectors affected,” says Sowden.
Meanwhile, Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Low Carbon Solar, says the proposals are “nothing short of disastrous”, putting many schemes in jeopardy.
“There are many long-term benefits to community scale solar projects including local community ownership schemes, a diversified income for farmers and landowners, reduced energy costs for businesses, schools and hospitals, thousands of jobs and the legacy of a skilled local workforce – these are now all at risk,” he says.
Green group Friends of the Earth has joined critics of the proposals, calling instead for a massive expansion of the FIT scheme.
“The Government should treble targets for powering our homes and communities with renewable electricity to create new jobs and boost investor confidence,” says campaigner Craig Bennett.
And Jeremy Leggett, founder and chair of Solarcentury, writing in The Guardian newspaper says the Government has “betrayed” the solar photovoltaic industry and made a mockery of their pledge to be the ‘greenest government ever’.
For further information:
UK Government reveals details of revised solar feed-in tariffs (18-Mar)
UK Government launches review of feed-in tariffs (7-Feb)
UK microgeneration industry warns changes to feed-in tariffs could mean job losses (8-Feb)
21 March 2011