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The sun hasn’t shone much over the Christmas period however, the lead up to the Christmas period saw a refocus by the UK government on solar photovoltaic energy. Announced on the 22nd of December, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) consultancy will look at microgeneration and the way the UK government can help small scale renewable energy through mechanisms such as the feed-in tariff which has already proved successful.

The feed-in tariff, introduced back in April incentivises investment in renewable microgeneration by offering fixed, premium rates for units of energy both used and fed back into the grid. Already, this mechanism has seen a huge growth in solar pv investment with traditional industries such as farming taking advantage of the profits to be made out of solar panels. Despite this government support for renewable energy, there are some fears that if the plug is pulled on the tariff too soon,

future projects and of course the future of UK renewable energy will be jeopardised indefinitely.

The consultancy which will last until March 2011 will endeavour to ensure that the longevity of UK renewable energy is secured through foresight and careful legislation. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has stated that the consultancy will focus on ‘quality, technology, skills and information’ and that ‘consumers need confidence that microgeneration kit will be of good quality. The industry needs to develop the technologies, the supply chain needs skilled workers to install kit and consumers need good information on microgeneration’.

Announcing the consultancy, Energy Minister Greg Barker said,

“We’ve already pledged financial support to encourage people to install kit like solar panels and heat pumps, today’s consultation will ensure that the industry and consumers have the confidence to invest.”

Certainly, while the financial mechanisms are in place for the time being, consumer confidence is still lacking in what is a fledgling industry not always attracting responsible business operations. Speaking on behalf of the more responsible side of solar energy operations, Dave Snowden head of the Micropower Council said,

“We have already seen extraordinary growth in microgeneration power generation solutions thanks to the introduction of the feed in tariff earlier this year, and look forward to similar incentives being extended to renewable heating and hot water systems next June. Today’s welcome proposals will help the industry grow with proper attention to quality, technology and skills development, whilst making it all much easier for consumers.”

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