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Revised UK support levels for large-scale renewable energy from 2013

The UK Government has published a consultation proposing new support levels for large-scale renewable electricity from 2013-17, and 2014-17 for offshore wind, under the Renewables Obligation (RO).

By Kari Williamson

The UK expects to have 70-75 TWh of renewable energy by 2017, and 105 TWh by 2020 to meet the UK's renewable energy target.

The proposals are expected to cost £0.4-1.3 billion less than retaining current bandings and drive a higher level of deployment than leaving bandings as they are, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) says.

The new tariffs can be found in the pdf Table 1, downloadable to the right of this webpage.

Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, says: “We have studied how much subsidy different technologies need. Where new technologies desperately need help to reach the market, such as wave and tidal, we’re increasing support. But where market costs have come down or will come down, we’re reducing the subsidy.”

Bad hit for UK solar

The UK Solar Trade Association (STA) says it is perplexed by the RO banding proposals, which mean that solar will continue to receive 2 ROCs until 2014/2015, then it will be reduced to 1.9 ROCs in 2015/2016 and 1.8 ROCs in 2016/2017.

The STA had asked for 3 to 4 ROCs under an emergency review to secure key UK solar manufacturing opportunities as they believe support could be cut quickly.

STA says research by Ernst and Young shows non-domestic solar could be subsidy free by 2017 if supported today.

The solar industry is already facing a potential slashing of feed-in tariffs to £0.09.

Solar PV Adviser Ray Noble says; “We’re perplexed by these RO banding proposals which show no sensitivity to the unique characteristics of solar and aren’t structured to support the development of the UK industry. Where we would like to follow offshore wind is with an emergy review to secure a short period of higher support today.

“We’re deeply concerned DECC doesn’t understand mass market technologies like solar and we will redouble our efforts to explain during the consultation period. Given the astonishing press revelations that the solar FIT could be cut to 9p we now face a fight for the very existence of UK solar companies and more than 25,000 jobs.”

Recent REA analysis shows the UK solar sector now employs around 25,000-30,000 people. This represents a more than an 8-fold growth in employment in the UK solar industry since the UK feed-in tariff scheme began last year.

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