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Tesco pulls plug on PV after feed-in review

18 February 2011

Tesco has put large-scale plans to fit solar panels on its properties on hold following the government’s review of feed-in tariffs, Building reported.

The news comes as leading figures in both the renewables and construction sectors  voiced concern about the unexpected review and its destabilising effect on the emerging PV industry.

The supermarket giant was poised to place huge banks of solar panels on a number of distribution centres across the country, a source close to the process told Building.

It is understood the project is now “on hold” after the government’s surprise decision to review feed-in tariff subsidies to renewable projects larger than 50kW, which could make Tesco’s plan uneconomical.

The review was launched by the Department for Energy and Climate Change after fears that fields of PV cells were using up subsidy money intended for smaller arrays for householders.

Climate change secretary Greg Barker has sought to calm fears that the review, set to be published next month, would derail large solar panel projects on public and commercial buildings.

“It is not our intention to place draconian limits on those projects above 50 kW, particularly in relation to school and hospital schemes,” he said, in response to a question in parliament.

“However, there is a real problem with large solar fields, and that is our primary focus,” he continued.

The source close to Tesco said that the solar panels would have been completed in March 2012, and the supermarket had been due to go public with the plans in about two months. It was considering putting 1 MW arrays of PV cells on about half a dozen distribution centres, the source told Building.

Tesco was unable to confirm or deny this at the time of going to press.

Meanwhle, in a separate story, Building reported that the Olympic Park will miss its target of generating 20% of its energy from renewable sources after the Games. Shaun McCarthy, chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, said that the proportion of renewable energy will be “less than anticipated”.

McCarthy said the scrapping of an Olympic park wind turbine in June last year because of safety restrictions was decisive in the ODA not being able to meet the 20% target.

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