Keep wind FIT cuts ‘bite-sized’ says industry

The need to persuade Government not to impose large Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) cuts on the wind power sector, but to keep such action bite-sized, emerged as a major concern during this week's RenewableUK conference in Glasgow.

“For the small systems end of the industry in particular it’s really important that we don’t have big steps down in FITs in too short a time,” Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, told edie. “If rates have to digress at all then we need them to do so in bite-sized chunks.”

According to RenewableUK’s latest market report for small and medium wind, FITs have been a ‘significant stimulus’ for the sector which added 23.17MW of UK capacity last year and is set for a 176% market growth in 2012 to a projected value of £138.66 million.

Meeting in Glasgow against such background figures, delegates were generally upbeat, despite energy minister, Greg Barker, being quoted in the Sunday Times to the effect that the UK didn’t need any more onshore turbines.

“We’re a little disappointed at the suggestion,” said Ms McCaffery, deliberately choosing to avoid too public a debate on the reported comments.

“The achievement of the renewable energy route map out to 2020, needs us to deploy approximately three times the amount of onshore wind we have now, although that would only require about twice the number of actual wind turbine generators.”

With many turbines in construction, others having gained consent and some 7000MW in planning, Ms McCaffery said that a “very significant chunk” of this would be needed to achieve the sector’s targets.
Turning more specifically to medium systems, she then added: “We actually need a very careful review of current capacity limits because for 50, 55 and 100Kw machines we would reach capacity far too soon.

“We have significant players looking to make significant inward investments in the UK in factories, employment and training but they’re currently ‘hovering’ rather than committing. If current capacity levels stay in place, in fact, the market will not be big enough to justify that investment. If we can get them revised upwards, however, and I mean significantly upwards, there are people ready to convert their pledges into firm commitments.”

Edie Staff

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