Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA), Steve Bratt, warns that the Government's decision to substantially reduce Feed-In Tariff subsidies for photovoltaic installations larger than 50kW is a mistake that could dissuade community projects, including schools and local authorities, from large scale PV installation that would generate an income and contribute to UK carbon reductions.
Bratt comments the ECA submitted recommendations to Government saying the downward 'fast track' revision of FITs should only apply to very large-scale installations. “The ECA believes that the new limit for lower FITs should have been 150kW, not 50kW. This would have encouraged community scale projects, such as solar panels on school and local authority buildings,” he says. “Now in these cash-strapped times, communities and civic amenities have lost a potential revenue stream that could have reduced their ongoing operating costs. The ECA notes that the Government’s reasoning behind scaling down the tariffs was to prevent very large installations from diverting cash away from homeowners, but reducing FITs for installations under 150kW is a bridge too far.” He adds: “Any significant re-alignment of the tariff away from smaller-scale PV technology could fundamentally damage confidence in the renewable sector.”
Bratt warns that the move could undermine the UK’s binding commitment to generate 30 per cent of its electricity by renewable methods by 2020. “Currently around 6.7 per cent of UK electricity comes from renewables. Increasing that to 30 per cent is going to be that much more challenging if larger buildings, and others who take notice of renewable price signals, have less of an incentive to do their part.”
He concludes: “Without doubt, FITs have helped increase electricity generated from micro-renewable sources, with homeowners and businesses taking the opportunity to install photovoltaic panels because of clear, attractive price signals. While it seems that there’s not enough money in the pot for FITs to cover larger installations such as solar farms, Government should still find a way to stimulate a broad range of UK PV installation, rather than preside over some sort of ‘zero sum game’ between business and domestic PV investment.”