Renewables industry assured by Government’s U-turn on support

British businesses have applauded the government’s decision to continue providing support to medium scale renewables schemes under the Renewable Obligation (RO).

A proposal, put forward as part of the RO Banding Review Decision in July, would have seen new small scale solar, anaerobic digestion, onshore wind and hydro power installations of between 50kW and 5MW excluded from the RO from 1 April 2013. 

The STA and the Renewable Energy Association have been making the case to officials to reconsider the proposals, prompting the Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker to change his position.

The Solar Trade Association claims that if implemented, the move could have left the market for mid-sized solar highly constrained. According to the association, sub 5MW solar would have been forced to rely solely on the Feed-in Tariff which is designed around a much lower resource commitment than the RO.

Commenting on the government’s decision, Barker said: “In light of feedback from industry on our intention to consult on the overlap between the RO and FITs we believe that now is not the time to make further changes to these schemes,” said Barker.

“Industry needs certainty, and keeping the current arrangements for small scale renewables as they are will help provide this assurance,” he added.

Responding to the decision, Renewable Energy Association chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said: “This decision is most definitely the right one, and will be welcomed by all those in the renewables industry.

“This is evidence of the Government’s willingness to listen to sensible and constructive debate, and the kind of mature working relationship we need to have.”

The news has also been welcomed from other sectors including the anaerobic digestion and biogas industries.

Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association chief executive Charlotte Morton said:
“ADBA strongly welcomes this announcement, which will give confidence to anaerobic digestion plants which rely on the RO either as their primary support mechanism or as back up to progress.

“This sensible decision recognises the huge value which AD can generate for the UK with the right support: tackling climate change, providing economic growth and supporting up to 35,000 jobs.

“We are very pleased with the speed at which DECC has responded to industry concerns, and ministers’ recognition of the need for certainty to ensure investment in technologies such as AD.”

Conor McGlone

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