Early reviews of Feed-in Tariffs causes uncertainty Energy Secretary Chris Huhne ...

Early reviews of Feed-in Tariffs causes uncertainty Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has launched a review of the government’s Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) scheme, following suggestions that the development of a number of largescale solar farms could soak up money intended to help homes, communities and small businesses generate their own electricity. Since FiTs began last year, the scheme has been a huge success at stimulating green growth, driving innovation, creating jobs and cutting carbon, with more than 21,000 installations being registered by February, says the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The vast majority of these are domestic installations, including solar panels, wind turbines and micro-hydro plants. Last year’s public spending review committed government to save 10% of the costs of FiTs in 2014-15 through a review due to start in 2012, or earlier if uptake exceeded government expectations. However, the risk of an increasing number of large-scale solar farms pushing FiT costs off track have caused the coalition government to look earlier. Chris Huhne said: ‘Large-scale solar installations weren’t anticipated under the FiTs scheme we inherited and I’m concerned this could mean that money meant for people who want to produce their own green electricity has the potential to be directed towards large-scale commercial solar projects.’ The review will be completed by the end of the year, with tariffs remaining unchanged until April 2012, says DECC, unless the review reveals a need for greater urgency. The government says it will not act retrospectively and any changes to generation tariffs will only affect new entrants into the FiTs scheme. A short study in to the uptake of FiTs for farm-based anaerobic digestion (AD) plants will also take place, as only two such projects have been accredited so far, says DECC. Renewables industry response to the review has been mixed, with a dismayed Solar Trade Association suggesting that the review ‘will kill the renewable industry’ by adding ‘further uncertainty in the industry, preventing businesses in the sector from growing, recruiting and meeting their business plans.’ The Renewable Energy Association agrees that the review will leave developers of installations over 50 kW ‘hanging up in the air’, but also welcomes it as a first step in a process which should ultimately end uncertainty.

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