Solar households expected to give away power to energy firms

The Government has said households that install solar panels in the future will be expected to give away unused clean power for free to energy firms earning multi-million-pound profits, provoking outrage from green campaigners.


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The mayor of Londonbig energy firms and environmentalists had urged ministers not to end the “export tariff” for solar panels under the feed-in tariff scheme, which is closing next year.

But officials confirmed that anyone who adds solar from April 2019 will not be paid for any excess power they export to the grid.

Climate change charity 10:10 said the decision was bizarre and urged a rethink to avoid pushing solar “off a cliff” next year.

“It’s hard to fathom the Government’s logic here. Solar has been a huge success story, seeing 1m homes and 1,000 schools taking clean energy and climate action into their own hands,” said Neil Jones, a campaigner at the group.

Green peer Jenny Jones said the step was a “very bad call”, while people took to social media to brand it “absolutely outrageous” and “shocking”.

The change will not affect the 800,000-plus homes that have already fitted solar panels since the feed-in tariff scheme launched in 2010.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said it was ending the export tariff, which provides a guaranteed price for all unused solar electricity, to minimise costs to all consumers. The policy did not align with its industrial strategy, it added.

The Government is understood to be preparing to announce a market-based replacement to the export tariff early in the new year, which would write the rules for how energy suppliers could buy the excess power, though they would not be mandated to do so.

However, there is expected to be a hiatus between the export tariff’s demise at the end of March and any new regime, meaning new solar households will be giving power away for some time.

The Solar Trade Association said the move was a blow to the industry, and it was wrong the Government had made the decision before setting out its new plans.

Around 90% of people responding to a Government consultation had opposed the changes, arguing they were unfair, would setback climate change efforts and hurt industry.

The change is one of a double whammy for solar power in the UK, with energy regulator Ofgem also announcing measures on Tuesday that will see solar households pay more for their energy.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “It’s only right we protect consumers and adjust incentives as costs fall, with solar having fallen by 80%, and we will consult shortly on a future framework for small-scale renewable energy generation.”

Adam Vaughan

This article first appeared on the Guardian

edie is part of the Guardian Environment Network 

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Comments (5)

  1. Keiron Shatwell says:

    Well that’s me definitely not putting solar panels on my south facing roof. They were going to take 12years to pay back with the FIT and Export payments so now I’d be expected to give my power away for nothing makes me doubly certain I’m not going to waste thousands on them.

  2. Iain Whyte says:

    Fully agree with Keiran. Until domestic storage batteries become available at reasonable price there seems little point in installing PV just to give away most of power generated for free. So that’s the end of another industry just as a new climate change agreement has been signed. I still reckon that solar thermal to heat your hot water is a better bet for most people and does not mess up the roofline of the house to anything like the same degree as solar PV.

  3. Richard Phillips says:

    If excess cannot be sold, it looks like the end of road to me.

    Richard Phillips

  4. Christopher Williams says:

    What vested interests are in play here I wonder?

  5. Keiron Shatwell says:

    @Iain – if I added in the cost of a "powerwall" then it was looking at 18 years to payback. Add in replacing the Inverter at least once and 20+ years to pay back made the entire thing a non starter.

    OK when I did my calculations initially I didn’t include any correction for inflation and for electricity price inflation but even after allowing for 3%CPI and 6% electricity inflation I was still looking at 12-15years to pay back a standard 4kw array plus storage with FIT and Export.

    I figure it a better investment to make my home as energy efficient as possible and switch suppliers on a regular basis. As more and more of the "green" energy deals are becoming the better offers I will eventually switch to one of these but at present E.ON are the cheapest deal in town (much to my surprise given all the bad press the Big 6 get).

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