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    The UK has begun a review of the feed-in tariff scheme for solar power following evidence that large-scale solar farms may affect the amount of money intended to help homes and small businesses generate their own electricity.

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UK feed-in tariff review “bad news for PV”

The announced review to the UK feed-in tariff for solar power is “bad news for PV,” according to the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) Technical Director Stuart Pocock.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

Speaking to Renewable Energy Focus, Pocock voiced the concern about the solar market being able to reach the critical mass it needs to get going in the UK with a proposed definition of 50 kW as ‘large-scale’.

By considering 50 kW or above as large scale, Pocock says the Government could “cause any developments going through at the moment to stop.”

This would of course be a worry to investors and developers as their projects’ viability are in ‘limbo’, the REA Technical Director warns.

“The policy should remain as it was,” Pocock says – i.e. supporting solar projects up to 5 MW.

As he points out, there are not that many places you could put truly large-scale systems in the UK, so the market is ‘capping’ itself that way.

UK Micropower Council concerned

It is not only the REA that are concerned about the outcome of the review. Dave Sowden, Chief Executive at the Micropower Council, says that although the micropower industry welcomes that the review will be based on evidence and that the majority of technologies will not be affected for over a year, the review has nonetheless delivered a shock.

“The review of all solar PV above 50 kW came as a complete shock.” He says there were no previous indications that many installations such as at schools and other public buildings, would be likely to see a change in the feed-in tariff conditions so early.

“There are now real concerns of job losses in the sector from the uncertainty caused by inclusion of this market segment in a accelerated review.”

Need to stem cash-flow

Kevin Parslow, CEO of Evance Wind, says it is important to look into the issue around solar farms sponging up the feed-in tariff, but is concerned that lowering rates at the small and medium size level of wind and solar could have negative effects on the industry.

“…there is a limited pool of cash with just £400 million being ring fenced for the scheme. As a result, feed-in tariffs must be protected from large-scale solar farms wrongly taking advantage of the generous scheme.”

But, he adds: “We would however caution Mr Huhne against lowering the tariff rates at the small to medium sizes of wind turbines and PV. The scheme is such a great catalyst for renewable energy investment that reducing the potential return could have a real detrimental effect on the UK meeting its renewable energy target as well as affecting UK jobs.”

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Comments

plastering4u said

21 February 2011
With payments of up to 41.3p per kilowatt-hour - more than three times the average consumer price - Feed-in-tariffs have made domestic wind turbines and solar panels look like serious investments, rather than expensive eco-gestures.

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