Government announces plans to ‘improve’ solar subsidies

New energy secretary Ed Davey has pledged to make improvements to the Feed-in tariff (FITs) scheme as the results of a public consultation into government plans to reform solar subsidies were unveiled today (February 9).

According to DECC, “transparency, longevity and certainty” will be at the heart of the new improved scheme of reforms for renewables, which Mr Davey said will “provide greater confidence” to investors and consumers.

As part of wider review into the Government’s solar energy FITs scheme, proposals to adjust subsidy payment levels for other small-scale clean energy systems, such as anaerobic digestion, micro-CHP, wind and hydro power were also outlined.

Climate change minister Greg Barker, said: “Today we are announcing plans to improve the Feed-in Tariffs scheme. Instead of a scheme for the few the new improved scheme will deliver for the many. Our new plans will see almost two and a half times more installations than originally projected by 2015 which is good news for the sustainable growth of the industry.

“We are proposing a more predictable and transparent scheme as the costs of technologies fall, ensuring a long term, predictable rate of return that will closely track changes in prices and deployment.”

The public consultation follows a High Court ruling last month that cutting FITs payments to solar projects installed after the December 12 cut-off date – and before the official consultation has ended was unlawful.

The challenge to the Government’s decision was brought forwards by environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth and two solar companies, who are now calling on Mr Davey to sort out the “disastrous solar subsidy proposals” and safeguard thousands of jobs in the sector.

Solar campaigners are also want Mr Davey to abandon plans to appeal to the Supreme Court over the High Court ruling and said the consultation offers a “golden opportunity to sort out the mess the Coalition has created and re-establish the Government’s commitment to a clean energy future”.

Friend of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins, said: “New energy secretary Ed Davey must ride to the rescue of thousands of UK solar jobs by insisting on significant changes to government proposals to overhaul its solar subsidy scheme.”

He added: “Developing the UK’s huge renewable energy potential is essential to tackle the huge damage caused by our dependency on expensive fossil fuels – a clean energy future and a strong economy are two sides of the same coin.”

Mr Davey confirmed that draft licence modifications are set to be laid before Parliament, and subject to the Energy Act 2008, are expected to make provisions for the consultations new requirements to come into effect for new photovoltaic (PV) installations from April 1 2012.

A second consultation review on solar controls is set to close on April 3.

The latest consultation report can be viewed here.

Carys Matthews

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