Scotland to retain ‘grandfathering’ subsidy guarantee for solar

The Scottish Government has acted swiftly to ensure that solar investors receive 'clarity and certainty' by denouncing UK Government proposals to end 'grandfathering' subsidy guarantees.

In a letter published yesterday (23 September), Scottish Ministers pledged to reverse DECC’s proposals from earlier in the year to remove ‘Grandfathering’, which guarantees a certain level of subsidy that will be provided throughout the lifetime of a renewable energy project once built.

Scotland has instead thrown its support behind lifetime subsidy support for solar projects, as well as refusing to review the level of Renewables Obligation (RO) support that solar projects will receive – another proposal initially set out by DECC. 

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Decisions on grandfathering policy and support levels under the Renewables Obligation are matters for Scottish Ministers. As is the case for the wider renewables industry, developers of solar projects need clarity and certainty on the policy environment in order to attract funding and reach financial close.

“To maintain a consistent policy framework until the Renewables Obligation closes, the Scottish Government are retaining the current policy on grandfathering and support levels for solar PV projects in Scotland.”

England & Wales

Mr Ewing also expressed his ‘disappointment’ in lack of consultancy between the UK and Scottish Government on the proposals to cease financial support for solar and biomass conversion plants and amend the feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme for smaller projects.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) is now calling on DECC to re-consider the removal of grandfathering in England and Wales, which would be a “serious blow to investor confidence”.

Solar Trade Association Scotland’s chairman John Foster said: “This shows that the Scottish Government is fully committed to solar providing as much as possible of its 100% renewables target for Scotland.”

“Solar projects in Scotland now know what level of support they are going to get, and that they will get it for the full 20 years. It won’t be possible to cut support for Scottish projects down the line in, for example, year 15 of 20.”

‘Wilful destruction’

Announcements were made back in July by Energy Secretary Amber Rudd that support for solar PV of 5MW and below under the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy scheme would end in April 2016. This follows a similar move last year which saw solar farms of more than 5MW in size excluded from receiving support from the RO scheme as of April this year.

The UK renewable energy industry has already threatened legal action over the “wilful destruction” of the industry if the subsidy cuts aren’t reconsidered. But Rudd believes that the early end to onshore wind subsidies will protect consumer bills and help cut the costs of other renewable technologies.

Last month, Ewing penned an open letter to Rudd urging her to reconsider the proposals, warning that community energy will take brunt of subsidy cuts damage.

Matt Mace

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