More than 140 project developers, consultants, funders and advisors attended the SmartestEnergy conference in Edinburgh and focused on why the tariffs must be set with some certainty amid fears they maybe changed in this month’s comprehensive spending review.
But Liam McArthur, Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesman on Environment, Rural Development and Energy, stressed there would be no “handbrake turn” on the Feed-in Tariffs. “The Feed-in Tariffs are working very, very effectively in some areas but less so in others and they will be looked at to ensure they are working as well as they can do in every sector,” he said.
“I suspect there will be a need for some rebalancing – biogas for example does not currently receive the kind of support it perhaps deserves – but it is imperative we do not undermine public and investor confidence.”
Mr McArthur admitted failure to provide clarity would harm confidence in the renewables sector as a whole admitting that although in the current economic climate every item of expenditure needed to be justified, maintaining overall investment in renewables was crucial to meet climate change targets, tackle fuel poverty and ensure security of supply
“It can seem like an expensive venture, some might even think a luxury. But once the deficit has been reduced we will still face climate change. Now is the time to be investing smartly to save in the future.”
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables which represents the industry in Scotland, also spoke of the importance of investors in renewable projects being given the long term visibility needed to make decisions. He said: “People are already talking behind the scenes about reviewing Feed-in Tariff bandings and levels of support less than six months after their introduction. While it is nobody’s interests that the tariffs are overly generous and not sustainable in the long term – if you look at what has happened in other countries that’s only going to set us up for a fall – we cannot amend them every six months. We need to give some certainty to investors.”
The conference also heard from members of the financial sector who said since the tariffs were introduced in April this year there have been huge increases in investment enquiries. The comprehensive spending review will be announced on October 20th.