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Strong public support for renewables as Feed-in Tariff consultation closes



The true extent of support for renewable energy has been demonstrated over the past ten weeks, argues the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

The consultation on the Feed-in Tariff scheme, which provides a subsidy to incentivise the development of several small-scale renewable technologies including solar PV and AD closes today. Consultations typically pass with little fanfare. The proposed cuts, including up to 87% for some solar deployment, has spurred widespread outcry. Many in the industry fear that a substantial decline in renewables deployment will cause companies to collapse. Analysts are suggesting there will be more than 20,000 job losses.

Three quarters of the public support renewables, according to the government’s own Public Attitudes Tracker survey taken this past June.

The consultation has attracted public comment and criticism from a range of stakeholders, including Al Gore, the United Nations, the CBI, the Mayor of London, the National Farmers Union, Panasonic, the Climate Change Committee, representatives of the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, local councils and authorities, NGO’s, construction industry trade associations and community energy groups.

James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the REA said: “The nation has shown its hunger for control over its own energy supply. This consultation is serving as a reminder of why we chose to carve out this course, to pursue a decentralised vision for how the UK produces its electricity.

“Of course it’s about British business, communities collaborating, and installing new electricity capacity as the old plants come offline. Crucially though it’s about people taking a stake in their individual energy futures. The public want to be able to make their own choices about the costs and sources of the electricity that lights their homes and offices, turns on their mobiles, and increasingly powers their cars.”

Lauren Cook, Senior Policy Analyst at the REA said: “What is impressive about the reaction to this consultation is the range of those who have spoken out. It demonstrates that when people speak about small-scale renewables, it is not just about financial returns. The discussion is also about reducing emissions, supporting industry, economic growth, and jobs. Small renewables are good for construction, for farmers, for urban and rural communities, and are important to remaining internationally competitive.”

Key points highlighted in the REA’s consultation response include:

– More money should be available beyond the £75-100 million proposed.

– Alternative mechanisms (such as tax incentives) than the FiT are appropriate for certain sectors of the solar industry, but support across the board is needed until we reach cost parity heading into 2020.

– Minimum import pricing at the EU level is a major issue for solar

– Pre-accreditation is paramount for the continuation of the Anaerobic Digestion industry and for developing other non-PV technologies

– DECC’s proposed caps (maximum capacity in MWe) allocated to the Anaerobic Digestion sector are extremely low and would significantly restrict the sector’s potential. They would mean a reduction of between 79% and 81% in deployment.