The backlash of the proposed review of the UK solar feed-in tariff has begun and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has now joined the debate. With the UK touted as a potential pv powerhouse of the future, the EPIA has delivered the warning that ongoing tariffs are absolutely essential for the growth and ultimate survival of solar energy in this country.
The feed-in tariff scheme was introduced in April 2010, designed as a mechanism for attracting investment in solar energy schemes, particularly roof mounted solar projects for households. The feed-in tariff works by offering fixed, premium rates for renewable energy both utilised and fed-back into the national grid by small scale generators. Tariff schemes like the one introduced in the UK last year have proved successful at incentivising investment in energy sectors which have prviously been unattarative to significant start up costs. The tariffs off-set these costs through healty yields on investments paid out by the tariff mechanism.
Elini Despotou, Secretary General of the EPIA commented,
“In times of economic crisis, it is essential to encourage the development of a promising sector such as photovoltaic’s which can create thousands of local jobs. The UK should raise its ambition and widely deploy PV, a decentralized well proven renewable electricity generation technology. According to estimates by EPIA, UK has been identified as having the fifth largest technical potential for PV in Europe. The UK also has significant existing manufacturing as well as new opportunities.”
While the UK certainly does have a huge potential, something reflected in the Ernst & Young solar attractiveness indices, the continuance and government support of the feed-in tariff will be fundamental to the survival and continued growth of solar pv. The EPIA assessment of feed-in tariffs will be reflected throughout the industry with a unanimous desire for a viable feed-in tariff capable of attracting manufacturers and investors to UK solar pv.