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Welcoming an announcement by Energy Minister Greg Barker today (Thursday 24 May 2012) setting out a clear plan for solar power to 2020, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“After a year and a half of crippling uncertainty, the sun is starting to shine again on the solar industry.

Greg Barker’s 2020 vision will allow solar firms to get back on their feet, protect jobs and plan for the future – but to avoid more fiascos any mechanism for setting subsidy payments must be managed independently of Government.

The Energy Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create jobs and tackle high fuel bills by switching our electricity supplies to clean British energy – but current plans will leave the nation hooked on costly gas and risky nuclear power.

Developing the nation’s huge renewable energy potential will help drive us out of recession – the Government must make it easier for communities, schools and hospitals to plug into clean power.”

This week, Friends of the Earth and the Federation of Small Businesses wrote to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, urging him to end the uncertainty over the feed-in tariff that is hampering the solar industry, and to set out a clear plan to 2020 that enables the sector to grow steadily and with confidence.

 

Originally published on www.foe.co.uk

The solar industry has welcomed new figures revealing the market is gradually recovering from deep cuts to the popular feed in tariff incentive scheme, which effectively halted growth across the sector last month.

 

The current figures are testament to the need for a consistent government policy for renewable energy, which will encourage public investment and interest in this sector. Solarfeedintariff would hope to see more positives coming from the UK Government in this regard.

 

Deployment of solar PV has increased steadily at around 620 kilowatts per week since the start of April, according to a report published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) late last week.

Demand collapsed after the government changed the rules governing the scheme and halved the level of incentives available from April 1. The number of installations dropped to 885 in the first week of April, creating around 2.5MW of new capacity – a huge reduction on the tens of thousands of installations undertaken during February and March.

However, provisional figures show that 1,788 solar installations were completed in the week ending 3 June, creating around 6.4MW of new capacity. The figure is less than the 2,186 installations in the last week of May, however the June 3 figure is likely to be revised upwards slightly as new information is collected.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said he was confident the industry was now “on the road to recovery”, following the recent confirmation by Climate Change Minister Greg Barker that the next wave of cuts to the solar feed-in tariff will come into effect in August, cutting payments for small scale installations from 21p/kWh to 16p/kWh.

Barker also announced a new mechanism for reducing feed-in tariff that gives the government an option to cut the tariff every three months from November, based on the level of deployment in the preceding months.

“The steady climb in deployment – which will see a minor blip next week owing to the Jubilee weekend – is a sign of a stable and sustainable future for the UK PV sector,” said Barwell. “Consumers are getting the message that returns are as good as ever and the feed-in tariff is finally stable.”

However, many industry insiders remain concerned that the industry has shrunk in size as a result of the deep cuts to feed-in tariffs.

Building company Carillion confirmed last month that it would cut 1,400 jobs following a drop in demand for solar as a result of the deep cuts to feed-in tariffs. Coventry-based Norton Energy Solutions also entered administration at the end of May, putting around 100 jobs at risk.

 

Originally published on BusinessGreen.

Solar panel installations have fallen by almost 90% in the weeks since the government cut the subsidy available, according to Department of Energy and Climate Change figures.

The change in financial support for solar power has been highly controversial and has seen the government lose a high-profile legal case in the high court. The new data lends support to the charge of some in the solar industry that the government cut the subsidy too far and too fast, endangering thousands of jobs. Ministers have defended their actions, saying the scheme they inherited from the previous government was poorly set up and was too costly for the energy customers who ultimately foot the bill.

Since 1 April, the amount paid to those installing solar panels fell from 43p/kWh of energy generated, to 21p/kWh. In the three weeks since then, an average of 2.4MW of solar photovoltaic capacity has been added each week – 87% down from the weekly average for the previous year of 18MW.

Greg Barker, the Conservative minister responsible for the solar subsidy scheme, said the changes aimed to end “solar booms” and busts: “The whole point of my reforms is to bring in a much greater degree of certainty and predictability.” He has set an ambition to have 22GW of solar capacity installed in the UK by 2020.

Caroline Flint, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, claimed on Tuesday that this target would take 169 years to reach at the current rate. “For months Labour has been warning that the government’s cuts to solar power would destroy thousands of jobs, cut off a green hi-tech British industry and stop families controlling soaring energy bills. These shocking figures prove that because of the government’s cuts, it will take a staggering 169 years for us to reach our targets for solar power.”

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “We’ve seen drops in installation with every policy adjustment, but we expect this one will take a bit more time to pick up.” He said the reason take-up would take longer this time is the new requirement that homes must be reasonably energy-efficient before being entitled to solar panel subsidies – a requirement met by about half of homes.

“Many householders are aware that government has slashed subsidies,” Barwell added. “The challenge for us is to make householders aware that’s partly because industry has slashed costs, and partly because solar is so popular. There is no doubt that financially solar remains a great prospect for UK homeowners so there is no good reason why the UK market should stagnate.”

All sides agree that subsidies had to be reduced because the costs of solar panels continue to drop rapidly: the argument was about the speed and scale of the cut.

In his first significant remarks on green policy last week, prime minister David Cameron appeared to address the uncertainty caused in the renewables industry by the changes to the feed-in tariff. “When we have made a commitment to a project, we will always honour it in full,” he told energy ministers from around the world on 26 April

 

Originally published on The Guardian

 

Here at Solarfeedintariff.co.uk, we would like to see the government support the solar industry more comprehensively and understand that investment needs concrete figures and not hollow promises to work from. The insistence of energy efficiency within the home prior to the tariff being granted limits the number of rooftops where solar panels can be fitted and damaged growth in the industry.

We hope the 22GW capacity mentioned by Mr Barker is strived for and we would like to see more action to support the decentralization of  energy within the UK

Japan may announce preferential price rates this month for electricity generated from renewable energy in a program that will start in July to encourage investment in non-fossil fuel power plants.

A five-person panel have been discussing the preferential rates, known as feed-in tariffs, since March 6 and will hold their sixth meeting on April 25.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry hopes to receive the recommended rates by April 27, which will then need government approval, Keisuke Murakami, who heads clean energy programs at the ministry, said today.

The feed-in tariff guarantees above-market rates for solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydroelectric power. The Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association proposed 42 yen (52 cents) a kilowatt-hour for 20 years for solar power. For wind, the Japan Wind Power Association suggested as much as 25 yen a kilowatt- hour for the same period.

Murakami said no decision had been made about rates for solar power in response to a Nikkei newspaper report today that said the rate will be 42 yen a kilowatt-hour for about 20 years. The newspaper didn’t state the source of its information.

By : Bloomberg