Don’t listen to the FiT rumour mill

The UK solar industry is understandably skittish when it comes to rumours about policy changes.

This week, one particular rumour has spread like wildfire throughout the sector with a steady flow of emails and calls directed our way, each one asking: is DECC really going to scrap the feed-in tariff in January 2015?

The short answer is no.

What started off as a few curious emails asking if we had heard the rumour soon escalated into concerned installers trying to figure out if the rug was about to be pulled out from under them once again.

A few calls to some well-placed sources helped confirm our hunch that the story was indeed nonsense with some at DECC laughing off the accusation. Contrary to the rumours the government remains committed to the feed-in tariff mechanism – something that probably won’t change anytime soon.

DECC is planning its next periodic review of the feed-in tariff in 2015. These reviews are necessary to comply with State Aid approval and DECC says that its preparing the 2015 FiTs review in “consultation with industry and other stakeholders”.

In fact, you can see that DECC has a public tender out to “undertake updates to its two in-house FiTs models, one of which covers solar photovoltaics (solar PV) while the other covers the other main technologies eligible for FITs (wind, hydro, anaerobic digestion (AD)). These updates will add additional functionality to the model to better capture investment decisions".

The problem is how quickly these kinds of rumours can spread through the solar industry. Industry confidence is fragile and easily damaged after the disruptive treatment handed down on multiple occasions by DECC. But because of the department’s previous form, solar companies were quick to believe the worst. It serves as a great example of how damaged the trust is between the solar sector and the government is.

The problem with this type of rumour is that it’s extremely hard to find where it originated from (puts on tinfoil hat). Was it fossil fuel lobbyists? A bored solar installer? Fracking mad Conservative MPs? The Treasury (gulp)?

The point being, Solar Power Portal doesn’t want to give oxygen to these rumours until we can substantiate it – we’re not in the business of fear mongering for more clicks. But until the government gives us a reason not to, the UK solar industry will always be bracing itself for the next broadside from a seemingly increasingly hostile government.