Former energy secretary Ed Davey has said that cuts to the feed-in tariff confirmed this morning form part of a “pattern” of policy decisions driven by ideology rather than evidence.
Speaking to Solar Power Portal this afternoon, Davey questioned the government’s justification for a 64% cut to the feed-in tariff and repeated calls for it to shed more light on the purported overspend within the Levy Control Framework (LCF).
“I'm finding it astonishing that the government is still trying to justify these cuts by peddling a lie that the renewable energy budget is overspent, because it isn't,” he said.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has repeatedly pointed towards the fact that the LCF was on course to reach a spend of £9.1 billion by 2020, a figure £1.5 billion above the budgetary target of £7.6 billion.
However Davey said that this merely used up the headroom which was written into the LCF to compensate for contingencies and that any claims of an overspend were untrue. He also said that one of the assumptions used to calculate expenditure was that every project given a contract under the CfD or RO programmes would go ahead – something he said was “highly unlikely”.
Davey added that if just one or two of those projects were to be scrapped, the LCF would in fact result in an under spend.
And Davey said just using the budget to justify cuts to the feed-in tariff was wrong in the first place. “The justification for cutting the support should be based on the evidence on reduced costs and deployment. That's how we used to do it and it seemed to me to be a rational way of doing it. They're trying to say the budget is justifying their cuts, but it clearly isn't. They won't admit it, and it's time the MPs on the select committee exposed this nonsense.”
Davey admitted that he would have also cut the feed-in tariff if he remained as the secretary of state, albeit in a much more tapered fashion. The results of today’s announcement he said would be far-reaching and varied.
“Cutting solar support by two-thirds in one go now will just see huge job losses and a significant break in solar investment.”
“I think this £100 million deployment target broken down by periods is going to see a lot of very odd impacts on investment and it's going to be much more difficult for people to work out what to do. I put in the degression mechanism which was, with pre-accreditation, created a stable, predictable climate and the evidence showed people could manage it and work with it. We were getting declining subsidies but we were still getting the investment.
“I think the way they appear to be going is going to make life much more difficult for companies and investors and for consumers. I just think it's not a way of ensuring people that we have a stable regime that's based on evidence,” Davey said.