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Large-scale solar farms beat the tariff reduction ...

Large-scale solar farms beat the tariff reduction
Two pioneering major solar photovoltaic ‘parks’ started generating green power in July - a 1.4 MW scheme from solarcentury and Lightsource Renewable Energy in Cornwall and a 1 MW scheme opened by Ecotricity in Lincolnshire.
Both schemes connected to the grid in time to benefit from the original and generous government feed-in tariff payments, which have since been reduced.
At the Wheal Jane site in Truro, Cornwall, over 5,600 solar panels have transformed an old tin mine into a solar power station which is said to be the largest such scheme commissioned to date. The farm’s solar panels will generate around 1,400 MWh of electricity a year. Lightsource Renewable Energy says it has a number of additional sites being built across the UK.
Green energy pioneer Ecotricity has also opened a 1 MW solar park, at Fen Farm in Lincolnshire, which will, it says, be first project in the UK to capture the power of both the sun and the wind on one site. The company’s wind park, on the same site near Louth on the Lincolnshire Fens, has 20 wind turbines generating 16 MW. The company did see a big role for ‘hybrid’ energy parks such as this, but adds that the potential for large solar projects has been ‘demolished’ by the government’s move to reduce solar feed-in tariff (FiT) payments from this month.
Results of a review of generation tariffs for large-scale solar (and anaerobic digestion) schemes were confirmed in June. The review looked at reducing the tariffs for large-scale solar in order to protect the money available for small-scale projects once it became clear that the number of large-scale solar projects in the planning system was much higher than anticipated, says the government.
From 1 August, new entrants into the FiT scheme will receive amended tariffs for larger-scale solar PV schemes:
50 kW-150 kW - 19p/kWh
150 kW-250 kW - 15p/kWh
250 kW-5 MW ¬- 8.5p kWh
Previous payment rates ranged from 29 to 41p/kWh.
Solar energy developers and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) were understandably disappointed, claiming that larger-scale PV had been ‘demonised’. REA’s Chief Executive Gaynor Hartnell said: ‘The logical approach would have been a 25% reduction across the board, irrespective of size. We think government should increase the size of the FiT budget and encourage a healthy PV industry to establish in the UK. But, to be fair to the electricity consumer, government must be prepared to intervene to reduce tariffs when justified, and the industry must accept this needs to happen.’
Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, added: ‘Many countries in Europe have successful large-scale solar industries, and the economic benefits that flow from that - all made possible through proper FiT support. Only large-scale solar installations can generate enough energy to make solar a serious part of Britain’s energy mix and provide the long-term economic benefits which are evident in other countries. For example, Germany has 17,000 MW installed, compared to the UK’s 54 MW. It is now a €10bn industry with 133,000 jobs in Germany.’
Meanwhile, developers of at least four more major solar PV parks were planning to have their schemes connected to the grid by now in order to secure payment under the old rates.

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