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There is a growing degree of speculation in the industry regarding the feed-in tariff (FiT) review that is approaching towards the end of 2011. Due to the incredible importance of the tariff to your average solar energy installation, such debate is healthy and ensures awareness of its approach. Speculation however, is not quite as beneficial, so this article will evaluate the current situation and explain what is to be expected when the review is announced and brought about.

The Comprehensive Spending Review

The government carried out what they called a Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010 in order to take better control of government spending. The Comprehensive Consultation into the Feed-in Tariff was a part of this review, and is the official name for the solar FiT review. It is carried out to ensure that the funding being spent to promote the uptake of solar energy installations via the FiT is under control and at a manageable level.

Expectations

International experience has taught us a lot when it comes to government incentives for renewable energy installations, especially solar power on a micro-generation (>50kW) level. The most successful solar industries in the world of Germany, Spain and Japan are perfect examples of this and we can review their developments to aid our predictions. In all of these countries:

  1. FiT’s were introduced and subsidised by the government to bring in solar uptake;
  2. Reviews on the FiT’s were carried out on loose timelines to control the government’s spending;
  3. The FiT’s were reduced over time and via these reviews in order to stabilise growth.

So by this example we can make one point clear;

1) A reduction in the FiT is by far more likely to occur than an increase or a continuation.

The second aspect we must consider is the degree of reduction we could expect to see.  At this point, it looks likely that the UK’s FiT reviews will be flexibly carried out to ensure the government reduces their risk in over-spending via the Comprehensive Consultation they have established. Whilst we have a rough date in mind, we need to analyse the uptake figures for a better idea on when to expect the changes.

Installation Figures of Solar Energy in the UK

The timing of the review

The government has stated that a review will take place upon a certain budget for the FiT being reached or if we reach March 31, 2012. Looking at the current uptake figures being offered by the regulator for energy in the UK, Ofgem, we can expect to reach 550MW before March 2012. This would very likely be a number surpassing the government’s budget, and we can then loosely establish our second important point,

2) The FiT review is likely to be introduced after November 2011, but before the end of March 2012.

Whether changes are brought about immediately or postponed until April 1st, 2012 is uncertain and depends on the government’s perception of the uptake and budget. Here at Solar Selections all we suggest is for people to educate themselves on their options, ensure they understand the returns and benefits for the solar installation and then proceed as soon as they feel comfortable.

The scale of the review

The other important aspect of the review when it does come around is the scale of the reduction in the FiT to expect. The growth of the market here in the UK is not expected to be sustainable for another year, so reductions between certain percentages can be expected.

3) The FiT cuts could be in the vicinity of 25% to 40% of the current tariff levels.

Only a cut of this magnitude could stabilise the spending that is at the forefront of the governments concern. Whilst such reductions would be damaging to the growth of the industry, they do serve as incentive for people to consider their options now and sign up for the 25 year indexed to inflation rates on offer.

The most important consideration with these three conclusions is that time is of the essence. We here at Solar Selections do not condone the pressured selling tactics that can be used in the industry to make customers feel forced into a decision without doing research. We do want to ensure that as part of a potential solar energy customer’s education they learn that if the review is changed and the installation incomplete, the new tariffs will apply and that they are likely to be significantly less attractive than what is available now.

In Conclusion, once a project’s feasibility and interest is established, any further delays in the decision making process serve only to expose the project to the risk of lower tariffs.

To establish your project’s feasibility and your own knowledge and interest, get in touch with us today for free, intelligent advice.

For the full article, please click here

Written by Jarrah Harburn

jarrah@solarselections.co.uk

T: : 0844 567 9835

© Solar Selections Pty Ltd

With the Queen granting Gordon Brown permission to dissolve parliament, the speculation can now stop and the hype begin; the general election will be on May 6. With this announcement the debate has already started, generally focusing on the key issue of the day, namely the world financial crisis and how the party leaders plan to reverse the trend in job cuts in the UK.

Afghanistan, the NHS, education and crime will almost certainly be hot topics for discussion. Even the issue of reducing the tax on cider distracts readers of certain tabloids from the more relevant problems of the day.

These issues aside, the three main party leaders, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have asserted that they are the ‘greenest’ party (perhaps excluding the Green party) and that they will each strive to set in motion the carbon neutral revolution of the economy in the next five years. During the next four weeks we are certain to read much boasting from the respective parties regarding their green manifestos but what are we to expect?

Conservatives

Energy: David Cameron has stated on numerous occasions that he doesn’t see nuclear power as a long term energy solution for the UK, insisting that he would prefer to see greater investment in renewable energy as a means of transitioning from fossil fuel energy sources.

With the EU setting a target of generating 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 the Conservatives have supported the development of green energy sites from an executive level. David Cameron has long been an advocate of green energy and a supporter of the feed-in tariff mechanism as a way of driving investment in new technologies. 

Emissions: Ambitious targets have been set with the Conservatives announcing that they will set carbon reduction targets of 60 per cent by 2050 which would be monitored on a year to year basis by an independent climate change commission.

If elected into government the Conservative leadership has plans to replace the climate change levy with a system based on how many units of carbon a company emits rather than how much energy it uses. This, they believe would incentivise businesses to go greener, sooner.

Vehicles: Conservative plans to reduce emissions from UK roads include taxing drivers on how much they use their vehicles. They have also announced that they will employ measures such as reducing the average emission of new cars to 20g/km by 2022 and set an average for all cars by 2030.

The Conservative Party has also opposed the congestion charge in London and all road pricing across the country, however it remains unclear whether they would actually abolish the charge once in power.

Labour

Energy: Having already established the department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which has overseen the recent introduction of the Clean Energy Cash Back scheme, Labour plan to move further towards green energy generation and intend to make all homes carbon neutral by 2016. The feed-in tariff which came into affect on April 1 is a mechanism which will seek to boost investment in renewable micro-generation, offering small scale generators guaranteed, premium rates for energy fed back into the national grid. The scheme introduced by the DECC will be carried on beyond the May election with hopes within the party that micro-generation will become a typical feature of the British energy industry.

Emissions: The Labour party has already set a target of reducing CO2 emissions 60 per cent by 2050 with a more short-term target of 26-32 per cent by 2020. Unlike the Conservative plan for annual emission assessments, Labour instead wants emission targets to be set and reviewed every five years as ‘carbon budgets’. In the past Labour has supported EU proposals of reducing carbon emissions 20 per cent by 2020.

Vehicles: Famously introducing the London congestion charge, Labour wish to extend the zone around the capital and want to implement the same scheme in other British cities as a means of combating congestion and pollution. Road pricing will become a Labour mantra with plans to charge motorists for the amount of time they spend on the roads.

Liberal Democrats

Energy: Going along with the European Union, the Liberal Democrats have set the target of producing 20 per cent of all energy from renewable means by 2020 with further targets of 50 per cent by 2050. The Liberal Democrats do not however believe in the use of nuclear power and have set out that they think that the money building new nuclear facilities would be better spent on renewable energy plants.

Emissions: The Lib Dems have set out emission reduction targets of 60 per cent by 2050. Nick Clegg’s party have announced that in government they would levy a carbon tax which would be payable by all consumers not involved in the emission trading scheme, something which they believe would make a real difference from a grass roots level.

Vehicles: The Liberal Democrats have proposed a dramatic rise in tax paid by motorists in the UK with plans to raise top payments from £215 p/a to £2000 p/a in a bid designed to encourage people away from their cars and into public transport. The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) would be scrapped for less polluting cars and duties would be halved for vehicles owned by those in rural households.

Part of the plan to entice the British public away from their cars is being reflected in proposals to invest in public transport. Public transport funding would come from road pricing and congestion charges in and around the UK’s busiest cities.

With the general election just weeks away, the Conservative party under David Cameron has reiterated its support for green energy and has produced a paper outlining its proposals for a shake up of energy production in the UK. The green paper titled ‘Rebuilding Security’ announces a number of measures designed to help capitalise new and expensive green technologies.

In a budget statement undoubtedly designed to garner support from renewable industry insiders and environmental groups alike, the Conservative party leader is leading a project which will see the creation of a green investment bank with around £2 billion to invest in new, green technologies and help to grow the fledgling industry in the face of tightened lending from the traditional banking sector.

With investment essential to help the UK carbon neutral economy take off, the Conservative’s announcement has been met with encouraging assent from those it is meant to appeal to.

Director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Tom Foulkes welcomed the news as being key to the success of the UK green sector,

“Clearly, transforming the energy sector will require massive investment in new and upgraded infrastructure. A Green Investment Bank will go a long way towards funding the development of new technologies, but there remains a need for a secure method of funding for the long-term investment in energy infrastructure.”

Certainly, with the election expected in May green issues are expected to feature heavily with issues such as the the Clean Energy Cash Back scheme and the Copenhagen summit making headlines in recent months. Some of the key lobbies to appease ahead of the May ballot will of course be the environmental groups who this time are behind the green paper’s plans for the green energy overhaul.

Andy Atkins, Director of Friends of the Earth commented that,

“A Green Investment Bank is desperately needed to fund the replacement of the UK’s outdated fossil-fuel energy infrastructure with the clean energy technologies of the 21st century, and to create new green industries and jobs.”

With the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) bringing in the feed-in tariff on April 1, the ante has certainly been ‘upped’ with regards to real policy designed at tackling climate change and achieving targets on carbon emission reduction. With the Gordon Brown Labour government making positive moves towards a sustainable energy economy, the opposition will have their work cut out in order to show that they are also capable (and indeed willing) to see the development of a strong green technology industry in the UK.

solarfeedintariff.co.uk will regularly update all news regarding the feed-in tariff before the election so please visit us again to stay up to date with all green issues.

The Chinese National Energy Administration has announced via the state run newspaper China Daily that they will be seeking to produce around 15 per cent of all the country’s energy by renewable means within the next 10 years.

China, despite being criticised for its heavily industrialised, polluting economy and images of Beijing obscured by dense smog during the 2008 Olympic Games, the government is taking proactive steps towards reducing carbon emissions with measures that would shame certain other attendees of the Copenhagen climate summit.

With the growing realisation of the fallibility on basing the huge Chinese economy on fossil fuel imports which could become untenable within the next 25 years, the Beijing government is planning to spend billions of dollars in investing in solar and wind farm sites in addition to research projects which could keep China at the cutting edge of green energy generation.

Renewable energy generation grew by 1 per cent in China in the last 12 months with the government hopeful that figures will grow from the present 9.9 per cent to 15 per cent by 2020. The Chinese government is keen to diversify its economy as well as its means of energy generation with the dual purpose of slowing the effects of climate change and making the economy more robust in the face of any potential fuel crises which could arise in the near future.

In spite of passing legislation designed to have an immediate impact on renewable energy uptake such as the feed-in tariff, a mechanism to incentivise investment in green technologies, government spokesman Zhang Guobao is realistic about the timescales involved in such projects. Speaking to China Daily, Zhang commented that,

“Power projects take a long time to be up and running, and we are basically allowing five years to complete them although it is a 10-year program, otherwise, the facilities cannot be put into use by 2020.”

Zhang added, “It appears that some local governments approved energy-guzzling projects during economic crisis so only by fully implementing our energy saving regulations can we realize economic growth with less energy consumption.”