The proposed changes to the FIT, which has been reviewed as part of a consultation process by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), involve removing the ‘pre-accreditation’ of renewable energy projects for tariffs.

Under the changes in the consultation, which closed yesterday (19 August), projects will no longer be guaranteed a tariff before the project if they pre-accredit, meaning they will have to gamble on what tariff they will qualify for upon completion, affecting potential profits and investment.

“We consider it essential to ensure the FIT scheme is affordable and place it on a sustainable footing,” the consultation states.

But the renewable energy industry fears the changes to the FIT will hit small and commercial-scale projects hardest, preventing new projects from getting off the ground.

Lauren Cook, solar policy analyst at the Renewable Energy Association (REA), said: “The option of pre-accreditation has helped projects with longer lead times secure financing based on guaranteed rates. Removing the option of pre-accreditation will hurt the areas of the industry the government has expressed support for, such as commercial and industrial rooftops.”

Community risk

REA head of policy and external affairs James Court said local authorities, communities and schools would be hardest hit. “For many, this will now be a non-starter, they couldn’t take the risk,” Court said.

Brett Pingree, commercial vice president at Endurance Wind Power, added that the removal of pre-accreditation could hit farmers and projects with a long lead time to secure planning permission would suffer if changes are implemented.

“The removal of the pre-accrediation system would do most harm to farmers, and especially those who are already financially challenged,” said Pingree.

Kill deployment

The burgeoning AD and biogas industry is also understood to be at risk from the potential changes to FIT.

REA head of biogas Dr Kiara Zennaro said: “DECC needs to urgently acknowledge that removing FIT pre-accreditation and tariff guarantees will be seriously detrimental to the AD sector.

“It will kill deployment, as opposed to just slow it down.”

The mounting criticism from the renewable energy industry comes after news from renewable energy group Scottish Renewables that more than 660,000 small-scale renewable projects had been deployed in Scotland, including more than 2,500 small wind projects, 204 hydro-electric schemes and three anaerobic digesters.

Scottish Renewables policy manager Stephanie Clark said: “The figures released today demonstrate the extent of our love affair with small-scale renewable projects, but the current level of change and uncertainty is already punishing the sector.”

Matt Field

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie