Solar and AD industry reeling after FITS decision

Massive cuts to the Feed-In Tariffs (FITS) scheme have been announced - confirming the worst fears of renewable industry leaders.

Axe man: Greg Barker

Axe man: Greg Barker

Solar industry leader Jeremy Leggett and Anaerobic Digestion (AD) champion Lord Redesdale both today (July 9) called for urgent talks with ministers to get their industries back on track.

The writing had been on the wall for large scale solar and AD projects ever since the Treasury capped spending for FITs last year.

Leaving the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) with little choice but to scale down FITs cash.

And the announcement today followed a public consultation on large scale solar and AD, which closed on May 6.

Roughly, the cuts amount to between 40 and 70% reduction in funding for both renewable sources.

From this August 2011 new schemes wanting funding through FITs will only be able to apply under the amended tariffs set out here:

Solar PV:

50 kW - ≤ 150 kW Total Installed Capacity (TIC) - 19.0p/ kWh
150 kW - ≤ 250 kW TIC - 15.0p/ kWh
250 kW - 5 MW TIC and stand-alone installations - 8.5p/ kWh

Anaerobic digestion:

250 kW - 14.0p/ kWh
250 kW - ≤ 500 kW - 13.0p/ kWh

Climate change minister, Greg Barker, attempted to ease industry concerns, he said: "Without action the scheme (FITs) would be overwhelmed.

"The new tariffs will ensure a sustained growth path for the solar industry while protecting the money for householders, small businesses and communities and will also further encourage the uptake of green electricity from anaerobic digestion."

Leading solar panel manufacturer Solarcentury, chairman and founder, Jeremy Leggett, said: "Now that the 40-70% cuts trailed in March have been confirmed, the 'Greenest Government Ever' surely now needs to sit down with the industry to ensure the knee-jerk policy making of the last eight months ends and that some stability is restored to the sector and its customers.

"To that end, it's really vital the Government sticks to its new timetable of reviewing the sub 50 kWp tariffs for changes from April 2012 and this battered industry receives no new nasty surprises in the coming months."

Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association, chairman, Lord Redesdale, a Lib Dem peer attacked his Government colleagues.

He said: "The Government do not appear to have taken a strategic view of the role that they want AD to play, these levels are insufficient to encourage AD plants at any scale.

"Today's announcement will fail to move us closer to the 'huge increase' in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion which the Coalition promised."

Micropower Council chief executive, Dave Sowden, said the industry needed to get on with it and make sure the Government didn't cut anything else.

He said: "We now need to draw a line under the fast-track review and focus on helping the Government during the forthcoming Comprehensive Review of the entire scheme so it redesigns all the tariffs and their degression principles to grow the industry sustainably."

"It is now critical the Government sticks to the timetable for the rest of the review - new tariffs announced in December after proper and informed consideration of evidence, and implemented next April, if we are to maintain investor confidence after this difficult time for many sectors during the fast-track review.

"We do not support calls elsewhere for immediate, arbitrary cuts of 25% - such a move would shatter investor confidence, confuse consumers and set the industry back several years."

Luke Walsh


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