Barker causes PV concern with Commons’ statement

Energy Minister Greg Barker yesterday told Parliament that the coalition government had inherited a feed-in-tariff system that had failed to anticipate PV field arrays. Taking the floor to answer MPs […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Energy Minister Greg Barker yesterday told Parliament that the coalition government had inherited a feed-in-tariff system that had failed to anticipate PV field arrays.

Taking the floor to answer MPs at departmental questions, Mr Barker, standing in for Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, said that while the government would not act retrospectively, large field arrays should “not be allowed to distort the market” for roof-mounted solar panels or other renewables.

His comments drew a quick response from the Renewable Energy Association, which issued a warning to potential investors in field arrays of the implications of his statement.

REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said: “The minister stated that the government would not act retrospectively, so comfort can be gained that no project that starts generating will see its revenue diminished. “But this statement is likely to worry potential investors in ground-mounted schemes. Those that have acted in good faith, and already made substantial investments on legal works and preparation of planning applications, will be feeling very uncomfortable indeed.”

She added that the REA would be seeking clarity on DECC policy for ground-mounted systems. The REA is pressing to engage collaboratively with the government to agree a way to address both investors’ confidence and achieve a stable regime.

Ms Hartnell said: “The REA’s over-riding desire is for a regime which supports sustainable growth for the emerging solar industry.If done right, jobs will be created and manufacturing established.”