Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solar PV. What Happens Now?

Hope someone can clarify what's now happening with Solar PV feed-in tariffs. A few weeks ago the Coalition Gov't announced that the tariff was to be cut from 43p per unit to 21p. Just as important important was the decision to only approve an installation on a property which had already been made energy efficient. The most controversial element was that the changes would apply to installations registered after Dec 12th - even though the consultation period on the changes would not end until Dec 23rd. Unsurprisingly there has been uproar - and a legal challenge.

I was much concerned when I first learned about what was proposed. The solar industry has been such a success. So I listened carefully to the Statement in the House of Commons by the DECC Minister. Admit I was left scratching my head about why the decision had not been taken months before, so avoiding the suddenness of the cut-off, and about the logic behind a consultation finishing two weeks after the matter being consulted on was implemented. But I felt able to support the Government's position (and did so in the chamber and in interviews) - simply because I could see no alternative. The solar PV element of the feed-in tariff scheme had been so incredibly successful, that almost the entire 4 year budget for all renewables had already been used up. The 43p rate was totally unsustainable. But it was not the easiest case to defend - especially in Welsh!

Anyway, the High Court has declared the changes to be "legally flawed" - and a DECC Minister has said it will be appealed. Has anyone got any idea what is going to happen now. Seems to me that if the changed tariff cannot be introduced as planned, there will very soon be no budget left, and all feed-in tariffs for new applications will come to an end fairly quickly. Really frustrating that I've been too busy to find out today what the position is. It could be that the judgement is still being absorbed. Would welcome comments from anyone who knows what's happening. I will try to update the position as I dig out information.


mairede thomas said...

the lack of money for the scheme is a problem but solar pv did provide local people with work unlike onshore wind turbines! Why can't they cut the subsidy for troublesome turbines!

Anonymous said...

Tax the rich b******s in tax exile.

They could pay the deficit off in a year if they paid their way

JB said...


I was lucky enough to have an installation completed in late spring this year. I invested, not to save the planet (I do not believe in global warming, man made or not) but because a 25 yr annuity, tax free and index linked returning some 15% on capital impossible to resist. Cutting the tariff in half and restricting it to energy efficient dwellings will inevitably cut off the industry. There is no doubt that the FITs were overly generous but the cut irrespective of timing is too draconian and not attractive enoughfor potential investors.

My installation is on target to meet the financial expectations but the records figures show that I am generating about 10x the amount in summer than I produce at this time of year. If global warming is the problem then solar power is not the answer in the UK perhaps sadly even less so than wind turbines even though they are next to useless.

Anonymous said...

Daft question Glyn : You say that the scheme rapidly became incredibly successful and burnt up the budget. Hang on !! Surely there's about a six month delay in people signing up to the scheme and then going on-stream. Surely the 'spike' in the take up curve, would have been evident many months prior to the spike in the financial curve? I hope you don't get a bumper crop of calves on your farm and then find out six months later that your feed cost has rocketed. Someone in Westminster didn't have a grip on things, and I bet it'll be one of your colleagues.

Glyn Davies said...

Mairede - I'd like to cut subsidy to turbines completely. At least solar panels do not destroy everyone else's environment.

Anon 1 - If it was that easy, it would have been done years ago.

JB - Truth is solar only makes a significant difference in hot countries. But pleased a good man is making some money out of the scheme.

Anon 2 - That is a question I'd rather not answer because it might get me into trouble. I'll just say that it had occurred to me before.

Anonymous said...

dear glyn, Have you heard of Desertec this is a project headed by Siemens.The concept is simply to use solar arrays to generate electrical power from principally the Sahara desert. If we in the UK could harness the AUSTRALIAN DESERTEC project we could import solar produced Hydrogen gas from sea water in AUS, run the gas through fuel cell arrays in the UK.We would then have electrical power & fresh water the value of which runs into millions of pounds.This fresh water could then be distributed between British farmers & Australian Farmers creating a carbon capture virtuos circle being also very profitable & uber eco friendly. just a thought.

Rufus Cole said...

As a guy who works in the solar energy field I find it quite outrageous having heard the news about the decrease in the feed in tarrifs. How can energy companies get away with selling unclean fossil fuel at twice the price of clean energy provided by the community? It all seems like an unfair balancing of the scales in order to keep our draconian energy business overlords keep us paying those every increasing bills.

solar pv mid wales