Answering oral questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday (20 November), Perry said power produced by small-scale renewable generators “should not be provided to the grid for free.”

Beneficiaries of the scheme receive payments for both the power they produce (the generation tariff) and for the power they supply to the grid (the export tariff).

In a consultation published in July, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy proposed to completely close scheme to new applicants in March 2019, with no replacement.

Industry representatives described the announcement as a “major blow” for the renewables sector, saying the removal of the export tariff would force homes, schools and businesses to provide free electricity to their suppliers.

Pressing the minister on the issue, Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake asked whether she thought households with rooftop solar panels “should expect some of the payment rather than simply subsidising large energy companies”.

“I do completely agree with him that solar power should not be provided to the grid for free, and that’s why I’ll shortly be announcing the next steps for small-scale renewables,” Perry replied.

Responding to a similar question from Labour shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead, she added: “People who have gone through the installation process should not be essentially captive takers should someone want to buy their energy”.

Renewable Energy Association policy and external affairs director James Court commented: “It is hugely welcome that the energy minister has acknowledged the united calls from across industry and parliament that no-one should be expected to give away electricity for free.

“The Feed-in Tariff has been a stand out success and has led to huge cost reductions. Cancelling the export tariff though would be a significant blow, for industry, for consumers, and for the UK if we are to meet our climate commitments.

“The industry is moving away from direct government support, and there are market-based options for the future which we look forward to working with government on.”

Solar Trade Association (STA) chief executive Chris Hewett said: “We are delighted that Claire Perry has now stated clearly that future small solar generators should receive payment for their exported electricity.

“STA had sent her a letter signed by over 350 organisations from across the solar, battery, electricity supplier industries and civil society seeking just such an assurance.

“As ever the devil is in the detail, so we now need to see the proposals and make sure they are in place from April 2019, but this is a good day for solar installers and prospective rooftop solar owners.”

Tom Grimwood

This article appeared first on edie’s sister title, Utility Week

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