The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced its response to the Phase 2B consultation on the feed-in tariff scheme. A large part of the consultation was concerned with how the FiT scheme can be improved to better support community projects.

After consultation the department has created a definition of ‘community energy projects’ to apply to the industry. In practice, this means that companies registered as a CIC on the Companies House register and co-operatives or community benefit societies registered on the FSA Mutual’s Public Register will be eligible for community schemes under the FiT.

The announcement means that eligible community solar PV projects will now be exempt from the minimum energy efficiency requirement introduced last April. This will apply to all PV installations on non-domestic buildings, including schools and colleges.   

 Although the department consulted on introducing a special, higher tariff rate for community installations, DECC does not deem in necessary to introduce such a rate currently. However, the department has made it clear that in the future, if evidence supports it, community energy projects may well benefit from a preferential tariff.

During the consultation, DECC recognised that one of the most significant upfront barriers to greater adoption for large-scale projects was securing long term financing. As a result, DECC is putting in place a system of tariff guarantees for solar projects >50kWp. Recognising that community energy projects generally have longer lead times than commercial projects, DECC has committed to extending tariff guarantees to community energy solar projects on non-domestic buildings with a DNC of less than 50kWp.

DECC also announced that it “will not be implementing the proposal (paragraphs 92-95 of the consultation document) to reduce the solar PV tariff for multiple installations that are not community energy or social housing projects to a level equivalent to the stand-alone tariff.”

“We’re delighted the Government has taken steps to boost community clean energy projects through its feed-in tariff scheme.

“But there is still more to do – communities must have easier access to funds if they are to play a really significant part in harvesting energy from the wind, sun and rivers.

“The focus now falls on George Osborne – will he provide the support to allow clean British energy to really flourish or will he continue to keep the nation hooked on increasingly costly and dirty gas?”

The department’s full response to the consultation can be viewed here. More comment and analysis will be provided throughout the day.