Calls for government to pull back on drastic renewables cuts

Renewable energy bodies are ramping up their campaign calling on the government to review its plans to cut support.

This follows the axing of preliminary accreditation under the Feed-in-Tariffs (Fits) scheme on 1 October.

This previously allowed the developer of a project to lock into a known level of support for the life of a scheme.

Alongside this, a fundamental review of the Fits support system is under way and this threatens to cut support by 87% from 1 January next year, also imposing tighter caps on deployment.

See also: Farm renewables support rates cuts – solar down 87%, wind down 58%

“The government’s ambition to merely control spending in sectors like community energy and anaerobic digestion, will actually bring development in these important sectors to a halt,” said Dr Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association.

“You cannot ask developers, farmers, schools or local councils to risk large sums of money at the beginning without knowing what they are going to get at project completion,” she said.

The change was bad for business and bad for energy security,” said a coalition of renewable energy interests including the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, Community Energy England, Regen SW, Renewable Energy Association, RenewableUK, Scottish Renewables and the Solar Trade Association (STA).

“You cannot ask developers, farmers, schools or local councils to risk large sums of money at the beginning without knowing what they are going to get at project completion”
Nina Skorupska, Renewable Energy Association

“Renewable energy is not a ‘nice to have’: it generates more electricity than coal and provides employment in manufacturing and in the rural economy,” they said.

They condemned the consultation process on the move as deeply flawed, with no impact assessment provided by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and insufficient time allowed for a proper consideration of the proposal.  

The groups also want clarity on the government’s hints that pre-accreditation could be reintroduced in future proposals but said that they had so far not been able to establish meaningful engagement with Decc on this.

The proposed cuts of up to 87% in solar energy Fits from January will put 27,000 of the UK’s estimated 35,000 solar jobs at risk, warned the STA, which has also joined with the NFU, the Confederation of British Industry, social housing providers and local authorities to urge the government to reconsider the proposed cuts.

STA has calculated that the government proposals would result in a maximum of £7m being spent to support new solar deployment under the Fits scheme from next year, over the next 3 years (2016-2018), a 98% cut in the total budget.

Allocating such a small sum to the world’s fastest growing clean energy solution was absurd and did not constitute a serious energy policy, said the STA.

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