An early review of the feed-in tariff, announced by DECC last week, has sparked a lot of controversy. The review is prompted by the number of solar farms that have applied for planning permission and which DECC claims are ’soaking up the tariffs.’
Justin Bere of Bere Architects sent the following comment:
Justin’s PV and solar thermal array at Muse House, his north London home and office
A steady long term government policy is needed in order to encourage the growth of all low energy and carbon saving technologies in the UK, including PV. These industries will return significant benefits in terms of jobs, fuel security, balance of payment benefits and national carbon reductions in the long run, if properly nurtured. With regard to PV, we should first use money on fabric and lighting and appliances to save energy consumption. After this, the use of onsite renewable energy has an important role to play in achieving the above benefits. Governments must put the country before politics and the emerging low carbon industry is too important to the country to be disrupted or even wrecked by badly thought out, rushed, superficial or politically motivated policy changes. My small PV array is today generating a useful 800watts of energy. In normal domestic use, a house that was not currently running 12 office computers, a server and a phone system, this would be very useful energy generation.
If only most solar installations looked so good….
You’d expect Solar Century’s Jeremy Leggett to oppose any modification to the feed-in tariff, but he does make several valid points which I’ve included here:
DECC’s announcement suggests it’s back to the future as far as Government policy on solar PV is concerned. It’s taken the new Government just 7 short months to undermine what by their own admission has been a successful programme to date. Bizarrely, DECC officials appear to now be advising their Ministers that anything above 50 kW of PV, the size of a medium school installation, is ’super size’ solar. This is total nonsense.
At no point in the period running up to the CSR and its aftermath has there been any hint from DECC that they had concerns about solar uptake in the built environment at any scale. Indeed, quite the reverse. But today, any PV above 50 kWp has been unfairly and unjustifiably pushed into an immediate review with an uncertain timescale. On what basis? What is their evidence base for doing so? They don’t have one. What is the justification for rushing through an urgent review of PV greater than 50 kW when all other technologies up to 5 MW are spared that process? We are not given any beyond reports of a few planning permissions for solar parks greater than 1 MW.
This is the very worst kind of knee-jerk policy response, which we thought was consigned to the dustbin of history with Ministerial promises of certainty and transparency in policy making. The surprise capping of the FIT through the CSR and today’s announcement has done enormous damage to our trust in the new Government and its ability to work with this sector constructively to deliver a positive way forward. It has also created significant and real job uncertainty in one of the few industries to create thousands of new jobs in the UK in the past 10 months. Hiring plans throughout the UK solar sector will now be placed on hold meaning more unemployment and less tax take from this industry at a time when Ministers are struggling to work out where the new private sector jobs are going to come from. And again, we have no explanation for the Government doing so.
The fact is that Chris Huhne and Greg Barker are taking a very large sledge hammer to crack a very small nut.
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Filed under: Policy watch