Fraudulent use of FiTs may be undetectable

Fraudulent use of Feed-in-Tariffs is difficult or even impossible to track down because of a loophole in Ofgem’s powers, according to the Renewable Energy Foundation. As a result of a […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Fraudulent use of Feed-in-Tariffs is difficult or even impossible to track down because of a loophole in Ofgem’s powers, according to the Renewable Energy Foundation.

As a result of a Freedom of Information request from the REF, Ofgem has published large quantities of information relating to the installation of Feed-In Tariff generators.

The data publication allows the public to see for the first time data on every single FiT registered generator, including location, technology type, capacity and many other technical points of importance to analysts.

However, it has transpired that due to government’s design of the FiT legislation, Ofgem is unable to determine how much electrical energy is actually produced by any of these generators.

Now the REF claims that because Ofgem has not been empowered to collect actual generation data, fraud monitoring is made difficult or even impossible.

Dr Lee Moroney, the REF’s principal data analyst, said: “Good data is essential for public accountability. Ofgem are clearly doing what they can, and we applaud their efforts in releasing this new FiTs information, but the key data related to the actual performance of the individual renewable technologies is missing. In order to protect the consumer interest, this has got to change.”

The majority of FiT installations involve solar panels, and in 2010 more if these were fitted in the UK than any other year. The installations covered more than 16,000 homes and commercial properties, giving a total capacity potential of 42 MW. A total of 4MW of solar power facilities were installed in the UK in 2009 and 4.4MW in 2008.

A survey last month revealed that 80% of farmers want to have solar panels on their roofs by 2013. The research found that demand for renewable technologies has increased on the back of the introduction of FiTs.