The Government’s loss in a Court of Appeal hearing over a judicial review into cuts to Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) has created the possibility of a short term solar ‘gold rush’.

The court ruling means any Solar PV installed, commissioned and registered between December 12 last year and March 3 this year will receive the higher FITs rate of 43.3p for the next 25 years.

Customers who register on or after March 3 will qualify for the higher rate until April 1 when it will drop to as low as just 9p depending on the energy efficiency of the building.

Add in the fact that energy secretary, Chris Huhne, has vowed to continue fighting to push through cuts to FITs by taking it to the Supreme Court and the long-term conditions for solar power is far from guaranteed.

PV installers and designers Photon Energy’s managing director, Jonathan Bates, said: “Some people within the solar industry have been pleased to see the DECC get a bloody nose on this, but the decision carries a high risk for the solar industry and may even place the entire FIT scheme in jeopardy.

“Many of us in the industry had largely come to terms with the changes and believed that the new 21p tariff was workable as it would give a return of 5 per cent. The old tariff levels were far too high and re-instating these could now have a potentially crippling impact on the spending cap of £860m.

“The Court ruling could cause another mini gold-rush before the new deadline of 3 March. This is the last thing we want to see as it could potentially lead to the end of the FIT scheme.

“The last few months have seen a boom and bust – the last thing we want is another boom followed by a spectacular bust.”

Renewable designers and installers Eco Environments director, David Hunt, said: “The Government had the chance today to restore consumer and industry confidence in the aftermath of the Court of Appeal ruling.

“However, by arrogantly pursuing an appeal, which could take many months to resolve, it is willing to jeopardise the future of hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of jobs.

“It is a callous and disgusting course of action which has the potential to wreck what should be one of the UK’s most dynamic and exciting industries.”

Accountants Grant Thornton also voiced fears with its head of energy, Nathan Goode, adding: “Today’s judgement is prolonging the agony.

“Whatever the theoretical rights and wrongs of the case we need to get to a position of stability as quickly as possible to provide the solar industry and investors with the certainty needed to allow them to move forward.”

Luke Walsh

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