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Posts tagged with: feed in tariff

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has today announced they will press ahead with their 1st August cut off date for large scale solar farms

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said, “I want to drive an ambitious roll out of new green energy technologies in homes, communities and small businesses and the FiT scheme has a vital part to play in building a more decentralised energy economy.

“We have carefully considered the evidence that has been presented as part of the consultation and this has reinforced my conviction of the need to make changes as a matter of urgency. Without action the scheme would be overwhelmed. The new tariffs will ensure a sustained growth path for the solar industry while protecting the money for householders, small businesses and communities and will also further encourage the uptake of green electricity from anaerobic digestion.”

The new tariffs (below) will go ahead from August 1, 2011 and will apply to all new market entrants.

>50 kW – ≤ 150 kW Total Installed Capacity (TIC) - 19.0p/ kWh
>150 kW – ≤ 250 kW TIC – 15.0p/ kWh
250 kW – 5 MW TIC and stand-alone installations – 8.5p/ kWh

This effectively writes off large scale solar in the U.K. For a government that is attempting to be green this is a huge step backwards.

Greg Barker has ensured that for the same cost there will be less green energy produced. Here at solar feed in tariff we believe this is a terrible move for U.K policy.

 

Barnsley Football Club is to become the first in the country to be powered by solar energy.

Work will start next month installing photovoltaic panels on the roofs of two stands and the external wall of the south stand at Oakwell – enough to provide energy to for about 140 homes.

Electricity generated will be used within the ground, with any excess being fed back into the National Grid. It’s estimated it will save the club about half its electricity bills a year – equivalent to tens of thousands of pounds.

General manager Don Rowing said: “With energy costs spiraling and likely to continue that way it makes business sense to use the large amount of roof surface available to us to save the club money and also to reduce our carbon footprint.

“The icing on the cake is that the work is being done by a Barnsley company and that will help the local economy. This just shows what a green place Barnsley is and even though we are the Reds we can go green.”

Dodworth-based Solar Europa Limited is due to start work on the project, which is costing more than £1m, on May 9, with completion due in June. The panels on the south and east stands will generate about 0.5 megawatt of electricity.

The cost of the installation will be met by the company, which will recoup any money made selling electricity back to the National Grid via the Feed In Tariff.

David Hawkins, of Solar Europa, said: “I just hope that by doing this we can inspire other football clubs and other businesses to take advantage of the roofs they have. It could be a warehouse or office block roof – it doesn’t matter – it all helps cut bills and cut carbon dioxide emissions.”

Solar Europa, which manufactures its own solar panels, as well as installing them, receives business support from the Enterprising Barnsley programme.

Adrian Waite, who works for Barnsley Development Agency and Enterprising Barnsley, said: “Barnsley Development Agency provide business support to the football club and we introduced the benefits of solar power to the management team at Oakwell earlier this year.

“To their credit, Don and his staff realised the need to move fast on this opportunity, and a number of Barnsley based companies were invited to complete surveys.  We are delighted that Solar Europa has been selected for this high profile project.”

The Enterprising Barnsley programme offers business support to Barnsley businesses with growth potential. Enterprising Barnsley has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. Enterprising Barnsley also runs networking events and provides office space throughout the borough.

For more information on Solar Europa go to www.solareuropa.co.uk

NOTE TO EDITORS

Don Rowing can be contacted on 01226 211300 or donrowing@barnsleyfc.co.uk or 07984 572739.

David Hawkins or his colleague Glyn Cooper can be contacted at Solar Europa on 01226 249852. David can also be contacted on david@solareuropa.co.uk

Adrian Waite can be contacted on 01226 787531 or adrianwaite@barnsley.gov.uk

Additional media contact: Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07910 165 444 or at kate@katebettsmedia.co.uk

Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield ’s Barnsley Campus. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide an integrated programme of business support. For more information on Enterprising Barnsley go to www.enterprisingbarnsley.co.uk

 

  • Reduced tariffs for over-50kW solar
  • Increased support for farm-scale anaerobic digestion

Proposals to reduce the financial support available to larger scale solar-produced electricity have been published by the Government today as part of plans to protect financial support for homes, communities and small businesses.

The consultation follows the launch in February of a fast-track review into how the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) work for solar photovoltaic (PV) over 50 kW after evidence showing that there could already be 169 MW of large scale solar capacity in the planning system – equivalent to funding solar panels on the roofs of around 50,000 homes if tariffs are left unchanged.

Such projects could potentially soak up the subsidy that would otherwise go to smaller renewable schemes or other technologies such as wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion.

Projections at the start of the scheme had shown no large scale solar under the FITs was expected until at least 2013.

Today’s consultation also covers proposals to provide added support to farm-scale anaerobic digestion given the disappointing uptake of such technologies to date.

Greg Barker, Climate Change Minister said:

“Our cash for green electricity scheme is a great way to reward homes, communities and small businesses that produce their own renewable power.

“I’m committed to an ambitious roll out of microgeneration technologies as part of the Coalition’s green vision of a much more decentralised energy economy.

“I want to make sure that we capture the benefits of fast falling costs in solar technology to allow even more homes to benefit from feed in tariffs, rather than see that money go in bumper profits to a small number of big investors.

“These proposals aim to rebalance the scheme and put a stop to the threat of larger-scale solar soaking up the cash. The FITs scheme was never designed to be a profit generator for big business and financiers.

“Britain’s solar industry is a vital part of our renewables future and our growing green economy. The new tariff rates we’re putting forward today for consultation will provide a level of support for all solar PV and ensure a sustained growth path for industry.

“Taking a pro-active approach to changing tariffs will allow us to avoid the boom-and-bust approach we have seen in other countries and enable us to support more homes and community schemes, and a wider range of technologies such as wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion.”

As solar PV technology has developed, its costs have reduced, and are now believed to be around 30% lower than originally projected. This means the technology does not need as much support to be competitive.

The Government is therefore proposing reducing the support for all new PV installations larger than microgeneration size (50kW) and stand alone installations. The new proposed rates are:

  • 19p/kWh for 50kW to 150kW
  • 15p/kWh for 150kW to 250kW
  • 8.5p/kWh for 250kW to 5MW and stand-alone installations

These compare with the tariffs that would otherwise apply from 1 April of:

  • 32.9p/kWh for 10kw to 100kw
  • 30.7/kWh for 100kw to 5MW and stand-alone installations

Such changes are in line with amendments made to similar schemes in Europe where in Germany, France and Spain tariffs for PV have been reduced sharply over the past year.

Alongside the fast-track review of solar, a short study has also been undertaken into the lack of uptake of FITs for farm-scale anaerobic digestion. The study suggests that the tariff for this technology is not high enough to make such schemes worthwhile. The proposed new tariffs are:

  • 14p/kWh for AD installations with a total installed capacity of up to 250 kW
  • 13p/kWh for AD installations with a total installed capacity of between 250 kW and 500 kW

These compare with the tariffs that would otherwise apply from 1 April of 12.1p/kWh for AD up to 500 kW.

Government policy is specifically to deliver an increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion, not to promote energy crops, particularly where these are grown to the exclusion of food producing crops. DECC is talking to Defra and others about the best way to implement controls to make sure this does not happen.

The Government will not act retrospectively and any changes to generation tariffs implemented as a result of the review will only affect new entrants into the FITs scheme. Installations which are already accredited for FITs will not be affected. Solar PV installations less than 50kW are not affected by this fast track review.

These changes are proposed to be implemented in advance of the comprehensive review of FITs, which is currently underway and will look at all aspects of the scheme.

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“Solarfeedintariff.co.uk believe the government has made a mistake in reducing their support of the U.K’s solar industry. Solar farms would have brought the country closer to its renewable energy targets much faster and more cheaply than roof top solar alone”

Unfortunately the solar industry is not a level playing field at present.  The Chinese government has provided some enormous loans to their top PV manufacturers (e.g. http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKHKH00202420100414).  These manufacturers are using the money for incredibly rapid expansion so that they are fast outgrowing all of their European competitors.  Being bigger means they have greater efficiency, which means the large Chinese players now have even lower costs than their foreign competitors.  There are obviously cries from US and German manufacturers about violations of international trade laws etc and indeed the situation is particularly unfair seeing as it was the German FiT that created the Chinese manufacturers in the first place, but there is little chance of any legal recourse in the near term.  The situation has led German policy makers to think about protectionist policies for solar though (‘buy German’) and provided fuel for the anti-solar lobby.

All that aside, the top-tier Chinese solar manufacturers are now producing high quality modules with lower costs than anyone else.  They have had a lot of experience with due diligence from European banks and are now pro-active in respect to quality control and bankability.  They are also beginning to invest heavily in R&D which will close the already small technology gap with Japanese and European competition.  Chinese solar manufacturers are integrating vertically in the value chain in a big way.  This means that for example cell manufacturers are starting to make wafers, silicon and modules etc. This gives them greater ability to control quality and improves margin retention.  They are also expanding downstream and bulking up sales teams in Europe with Europeans. This reduces the ‘fear factor’ of working with Chinese companies and taking revenue away from European wholesalers.  The strength of the big Chinese players is evidently putting a strain on its competition. If one had to choose between German or Chinese manufacturers as the most likely to be around in 25 years it would almost certainly be the Chinese.

It should be noted that there a number of Chinese manufacturers that do not have such high standards and should be avoided.  Many people in the solar industry are not convinced that the UK’s Microgeneration Certification Scheme is effective at weeding out these poor manufactures judging from the companies which have gotten through.  There are also lots of counterfeit modules  on the market now (for example fake Trina Solar and ET Solar modules are widespread) so its important to find installers with good checking procedures.

So does the rise of the big Chinese solar manufacturers damage the UK and make the Feed-in tariffs pointless, seeing as it will support the continued growth of unbeatable foreign competition?  I would argue that the only way to create growth in our manufacturing industry is to develop a domestic end-user market.  For a long time the UK has precious little in terms of PV manufacturing capability, which means that the strength of Chinese companies has little impact on us.  If we were not buying from China, we would be buying from elsewhere.   As the UK market grows, more people become engaged in the industry and start to look at product innovation.  Already there are a number of UK companies developing solar products specific to the UK market as a direct result of the introduction of the Feed-in tariff.

Furthermore, module manufacturing makes up only a small portion of the solar value chain.  Installing roof-top PV is highly labour intensive, and the feed-in tariffs will create a huge number of jobs in the badly suffering building services industry.  The fact that there are good quality, cheap Chinese panels available allows solar PV to be more competitive as a renewable energy source.  Costs are expected to fall rapidly over the coming years (as they have already) meaning that in around 5-6 years time the cost of solar electricity will be at par with retail electricity prices, which means the FiTs won’t be needed anymore.

Another point is that the big Chinese PV manufacturers will start doing the last manufacturing step, module integration, close to their markets.  This is because you can air freight solar cells, but you have to ship finished solar panels because of the glass (regular glass factories normally only serve a radius of 100km).  By doing module integration close to their key markets, manufacturers won’t have working capital tied up for 4 weeks and will reduce the risk of damage in transport.  Sharp already do this with a module integration plant in Wrexham, and we may well start seeing the Chinese companies open manufacturing plants in Europe, even in the UK, over the next couple of years which would provide an interesting boost to UK industry.

Eventually the playing field will level out again – China will get more expensive and there will be space for newcomers with new technologies, but for now the Chinese players clearly have the upper hand.