The government is aiming to start the legislative process for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) before the summer in a bid to have the export tariff up and running before the end of the year.
Earlier this week Labour MP Kerry McCarthy quizzed officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on when proposals for the SEG will be published, with the UK solar industry currently sitting in a policy vacuum.
The feed-in tariff closed to new solar installations on 31 March 2019 and while a consultation on the SEG was launched in January and closed on 5 March 2019, an official response or update has yet to be issued.
But in response to McCarthy, universities minister Chris Skidmore, standing in for energy minister Claire Perry, revealed that the government hoped to kick-off the legislative process for the SEG before the summer recess.
No specific dates for summer recess have been set as it stands, however it usually starts in late July.
An update on the progress of the SEG included within a consultation on supplier licence amendments, also published earlier this week, states that the department now envisages that a final deadline for qualifying suppliers to be required to offer a tariff could be set for the end of this year.
That would limit the solar industry’s policy vacuum to nine months at the most.
However McCarthy responded to Skidmore with the frank assertion that many in the solar industry would consider that timeframe as unacceptable, before calling for a fair, minimum floor price to prevent suppliers “taking advantage” of solar households.
Skidmore confirmed that this would be consulted on, but suggested that the “right signals are already emerging”, pointing to the fact that some suppliers were voluntarily bringing forward tariffs already.
E.On was the first to publicly announce its equivalent of the SEG, albeit on a limited basis, by confirming that it would honour the previous export tariff for a period of one year for the first 500 households that installed domestic PV under the company’s offering.
That was followed by Octopus Energy launching two separate ‘Outgoing’ tariffs, including a tracker tariff that followed day-ahead pricing.
Leonie Greene, director of advocacy and external affairs at the Solar Trade Association, said action was needed “as soon as possible”.
“We urge ministers to confirm now that households and communities can have full confidence that they will receive payment at a fair market rate for the clean power they provide for others to use as we decarbonise the UK electricity grid. With the CCC today underlining how vital public engagement will be to meet net zero, it is important that households & communities who make the effort can at least have confidence they will be treated fairly. This seems to us the minimum government should do, in line with EU law. Much more is required to ramp up investment if government is to meet the recommendations of the CCC on net zero,” she said.