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Anger and legal threats over cuts to PV energy tariffs

25 March 2011

Local groups and developers have reacted angrily to the government’s planned reductions of feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic solar energy, Construction News reported.

The planned cuts to incentives announced by climate change minister Greg Barker will hit feed-in tariff rates for new schemes with generating capacities greater than 50 kW.

At the Renewable Energy Association, PV specialist Ray Noble said a number of major firms have already invested significant sums of money in developing PV schemes based on the original feed-in tariffs and are now considering legal action against the cuts.

“Major car manufacturers and big retail chains have planned major solar schemes, and they are now taking legal advice,” he said.

Julian German, Cornwall Council’s cabinet member responsible for green energy, was quoted in Construction News saying that the government was sending confusing messages to councils.

“We are extremely disappointed that on one hand the secretary of state announced that local authorities have the opportunity to generate and sell electricity from renewable technologies, and yet now, on the other hand, the government is planning changes to the feed-in tariff,” he said.

Martin Shorrock, chief executive of developer Low Carbon Solar, said that schools and local co-operatives would be most likely to suffer.

“The proposals… are nothing short of disastrous,” said Shorrock. “If adopted, they would mean a large rooftop installation on a school or office with 100 kW capacity would see available incentives cut 42 per cent, while solar farms with up to 5 MW will see incentives slashed by 72 per cent. The result is that hundreds of solar energy community schemes are in jeopardy.”

But green energy company Eaga - which is currently subject to a takeover bid from Carillion - welcomed the reduction in tariffs for schemes below 50 kW.

Eaga plans to sign new contracts to install solar photovoltaic panels in 320,000 homes by the end of the year, Building reported.

The exact details of Eaga’s deal are still under wraps but deals have already been signed covering 120,000 homes.

Eaga strategic director John Swinney said: “I think the whole idea of filling farmland with solar panels is anathema to the way both this and the previous government have been developing the feed-in tariff policy.” 

Comments

A good thing that the Government is reducing the available feed-in tariffs to now benefit mainly domestic installations. Where do the major companies think the subsidies were coming from - the taxpayer would be subsidising their shareholder profit yet again.

Mike Suttill, 28 March 2011

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