Court backs DECC’s decision on premature solar RO closure

The Court of Appeal has upheld DECC’s decision to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme early for large-scale solar projects. Lord Justice Floyd revealed the verdict this week at the […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The Court of Appeal has upheld DECC’s decision to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme early for large-scale solar projects.

Lord Justice Floyd revealed the verdict this week at the Royal Courts of Justice, dismissing an appeal by developers including Solarcentury and Lark Energy.

The RO provides financial incentives for renewable energy generation and has been the main support mechanism used by government for large-scale projects but announced plans to end it for those with a capacity of 5MW and above in 2014.

It argued an overspend within the Levy Control Framework (LCF), which is designed to control the costs of supporting low carbon electricity, meant subsidies had to end earlier than expected to balance the interests of other technologies paid under the mechanism.

Last year former Energy Secretary Ed Davey however claimed the LCF being overspent is “one big lie to justify cuts to the industry”.

In a joint statement, the two solar developers said the court has decided the government can lawfully apply the overall LCF funding cap in selective ways to cut support for individual technologies.

They added: “This very narrow reading of the LCF policy means that in effect, it trumps all other policy decisions and ministerial statements and indeed that was the blunt DECC message throughout the High and Appeal Courts process.

“Taken together with the full range of damaging political decisions made since last year’s election, this ruling will do nothing to help restore confidence in the UK as a renewables market underpinned by stable and predictable policy.

“At a time when other more expensive non-solar parts of the renewable energy industry are looking to the government for long term commitments to a second LCF beyond 2020, we have to ask why would anyone trust this or a future government to deliver on such promises made today?”