It is unsurprising that the man who headed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) when the feed-in tariffs were announced under the previous government has joined the campaign against making cutbacks to the feed-in tariff. Ed Miliband now leader of the opposition has come out in favour of maintaining the current rates paid to solar projects regardless of scale.
Greg Barker is in favour of reducing the feed-in tariffs for larger scale solar farms to ensure that investment is focused on solar rooftop installations rather than large scale solar farms which have sprung up in order to take advantage of the tariff payments. The coalition government has maintained that in order for household solar projects to be successful, a cap on payments will be introduced for all solar projects over 50kw capacity, making large scale solar farm projects financially unviable.
Miliband showed his opposition to proposed cuts by signing an early day moton with a view to provoking a debate in parliament to highlight the reasons for maintaining the solar feed-in tariff for all projects. A Labour Party spokesman commented that,
“There has been no real debate about this significant change and we want to see it debated properly at the committee level.”
The feed-in tariff works by offering guaranteed, premium rates for units of energy both used and fed-into the grid by solar photovoltaic generators. The feed-in tariff mechanism was introduced as a way of making solar projects more commercially viable by off-setting the obvious set up costs in installing solar pv equipment. Therefore, the proposed 40-70 per cent cuts for installations over 50kw could prove disastrous for larger schemes as investors are turned off by a lack of returns.
Shadow climate minister, Huw Irranca-Davies echoed the leader of the party stating,
“Minister Greg Barker’s decision to go ahead with the proposed dramatic Feed-In Tariff reductions for community, school and hospital schemes, is a big blow to British industry and betrays the government’s promise the be ‘the greenest government ever.”
Adding, “A decision such as this which fundamentally alters the future for the solar industry in the UK deserves real debate, where MPs can question the Minister on his rash and ill-thought out decision. It should not be snuck quietly through the Commons.”