Solar industry still facing uncertainties over feed-in-tariff scheme
The Government may have lost their appeal over the feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme, but there are talks of another appeal and resignations. Alex Blackburne and Charlotte Reid have a look at the latest.
Energy and climate change minister, Chris Huhne, has confirmed that the Government plans to appeal against the second court ruling which called the cut in solar incentives unlawful.
Solar energy companies welcomed the decision from the Court of Appeal, but Huhne has warned firms that this is not a chance to publicise the old feed-in tariff rate because they will be visiting the Supreme Court for yet another appeal.
On top of this, divisions have developed in the solar industry itself with the UK’s largest independent solar company, Solarcentury, resigning from the British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA).
Its decision to do so comes amidst a row over the BPVA’s backing of the Government’s appeal over cuts to subsidies. It has been revealed that the trade body’s chairman had intervened, and tried to assist the Government’s case.
Derry Newman, CEO, said, “We cannot understand how a trade body claiming to represent the best interests of the UK Photovoltatic (PV) industry could have arrived at such a position, nor why the BPVA is supporting the right of the department to make retrospective changes to the feed-in tariff at any time, thus jeopardising all future investor interest in PV and other FiT technologies”.
Solarcentury formed part of a trio of solar supporters that lodged the initial appeal to the Government’s proposed cuts to subsidies, along with Homesun and Friends of the Earth.
All this uncertainty in the solar sector started from a judicial review in the High Court where the slashes were deemed “legally flawed” – a decision that the Government appealed against and subsequently lost.
Huhne has tried to justify this and said in Parliament this week, “If we were to continue over-subsidising at the rate we that had before, then we would be able to install fewer than half of the installations we can afford to subsidise today under the new rate.
“It was not an accident that the British Photovoltaic Association intervened on our side in the courts precisely as a result of that calculation.”
But Newman was puzzled as to why the BPVA would want to oppose the appeal.
“Of all trade bodies in this sector, the BPVA alone has allowed itself to be used in a classic Government ‘divide and rule’ manoeuvre”, claimed Newman.
“By contrast, other trade bodies including the Solar Trade Association and Renewable Energy Association have recognised what is at stake in this case and in particular, the disastrous long-term implications of Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) getting their way.”
Climate change minister Greg Barker announced that the appeal process had cost the Government some £66,400 – a figure that he had expected to recover if the appeal was successful.
You should not be put off by the uncertainty in the solar sector. The feed-in tariff scheme is a good way to save energy, money and the planet.
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