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UK small wind endangered by feed-in tariff cuts

UK trade association RenewableUK says it is “concerned” over the Government's proposed lower levels of feed-in tariffs for small wind turbines.

By Kari Williamson

Household-scale small wind turbines have had their tariffs cut by over 40%, while farm and small business-scale turbines have seen cuts of over a quarter. These reductions have been described by the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Barker MP, as ‘dramatic’.

RenewableUK’s Director of Policy, Dr Gordon Edge, says: “Government needs to work with industry, to lift barriers for manufacturers and to ensure that these cuts don’t take a scythe to Britain’s world-leading small wind manufacturing industry, which employs hundreds of people across the UK,. It’s really important confidence is retained, and we’re keen to work with Government on progressing development rights and developing pre-registration to secure sector confidence.

“Household & business-scale wind turbines have been deployed in line with the Government’s predictions – if anything, deployment has not been as strong as we would have hoped because of the difficulty of securing planning permission for even small wind turbines. The Government points to capital costs for some turbines coming down – but overall project costs have been rising across the technology sizes  and manufacturers will face real dangers with the proposed cuts – we want to work with Government to ensure lower costs for consumers and protection for our UK-wide industry.”

Wind turbines require planning permission to be erected, which presents a barrier to potential customers and additional costs to homeowners and businesses seeking to generate their own energy. An Act passed into law in 2009 required the Government to bring forward proposals to ease this restriction for domestic and non-domestic small wind turbines before the middle of 2010.

Former Conservative MP and renewable energy campaigner Peter Ainsworth, who brought forward the Green Energy (Definition & Promotion) Act 2009, says: "It is disappointing that the Government has yet to comply with the provisions of the Green Energy Act, which had Cross-Party support at the time it was passed. If we are to make our energy more secure and less expensive in the medium term, we need to make it easier for every household to play its part."

The new feed-in tariff bands are proposed to start in October 2012, giving consumers little under 8 months to get planning permission for small wind projects starting now – a process that can take up to a year, Renewable UK warns.

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