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Solar energy benefits most from UK feed-in tariffs

Solar has taken the lead in the UK renewable energy market as a result of favourable feed-in tariffs, according to a new report by technology analyst Greenbang.

By Isabella Kaminski

A new report by technology analyst Greenbang, The UK’s Feed In Tariff – Impact, response and market trends for the decade ahead, found solar installations increased to over twice the 2009 level in just six months due to a beneficial tariff rate.

Despite greater regulations and planning slowing their response to feed-in tariffs, small-scale wind and hydro markets have started to catch up in terms of installed capacity, says the report.

The UK anaerobic digestion market saw the least benefit out of the four technologies supported by the government's policy, with a tariff rate regarded within the industry as too low, meaning Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are used more incentives.

According to Greenbang, although the UK has been bottom of the renewable energy rankings for the past decade it is now catching up due to the feed-in tariff policy's encouragment of domestic, commercial and community installations.

However, the report is critical of the UK's renewable energy markets, saying they have ben inadequately prepared to make the most of the policy during the critical first two years while the tariff rate is at the maximum level. In particular, it said a lack of skills within the small-scale wind and hydro markets had prompted a slow initial response and a lack of marketing from both companies and government has hindered uptake.

According to the report, future market growth in the next decade will vary from sector to sector, but the key period of growth will occur in the next two years.

Raphael Raggatt, lead author of the research, says: “The rate of installations is expected to peak after 18 months and so the key period of growth is within that time, meaning that solar has really taken the lead. However, there is great potential for the whole of the small-scale UK renewable energy market as it is an ideal location for all of the technologies supported by the scheme. To ensure the anaerobic digestion market grows with the other technologies, the government should review the tariff rate with a look at increasing its value.”

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Bioenergy  •  Other marine energy and hydropower  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Wind power