Sinking feeling as government fiddles with solar subsidy AGAIN

There were sinking hearts among solar power firms yesterday as the Government put forward plans to fiddle with the way it hands out funding. Yesterday the Government announced it wants […]

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By Vicky Ellis

There were sinking hearts among solar power firms yesterday as the Government put forward plans to fiddle with the way it hands out funding.

Yesterday the Government announced it wants to cut off subsidies for bigger solar power projects under the Renewables Obligation scheme, claiming there could soon be more solar deployed “than is affordable”.

The episode will doubtless call to mind the solar FiTs fiasco of three years ago, which saw solar firms across the country go bust and led 17 firms to sue the Government when it slashed support with little warning.

Yesterday the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) pointed to industry figures suggesting by 2017 there could be more than the 2.4-4GW set out in the electricity market reform (EMR) delivery plan.

Under new plans, solar PV projects in England, Wales and Scotland which are bigger than 5 megawatts (MW) won’t quality for support from 1 April 2015.

Instead they will have to jockey for cash with all other “established” renewables technologies in a new mechanism called Contracts for Difference.

DECC says these “established” technologies are onshore wind over 5MW, energy from waste with CHP, hydropower between 5MW and 50MW, landfill and sewage gas.

It claims a “grace period” proposed in the consultation will protect developers which have already spent cash on getting projects ready.

Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association bemoaned the change for creating a new “cliff edge” of support.

The founder and Chief Executive of Good Energy, Juliet Davenport said she would be raising her own concerns with the Energy Secretary, adding: “We believe the government should be providing solid, stable support for such developments and not disadvantaging this growing sector.”

Others suggested the plans which would slightly tilt solar subsidies away from ground level projects towards big rooftop ones were confusing.

Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner Alasdair Cameron said: “Attacking large-scale solar parks, while doing almost nothing to boost rooftop systems, is another sign of this Government’s piecemeal approach to policy making. Solar power is cheap, popular and essential for tackling climate change and energy security.”