The government drew back from a step-change in its proposed levels of support scheme for small-scale renewable energy schemes amid attacks by the Conservatives and campaigners for a lack of ambition.
Unveiling the new so-called feed-in tariffs (FITs) paid to people, communities or businesses who generate electricity from solar panels, wind turbines or other renewable sources, energy secretary Ed Miliband said the government still only intended that the sector would supply 2% of the country's electricity by 2020 – the same figure he proposed last summer.
Some technologies such as solar photovoltaic panels on household roofs will get a higher feed-in tariff, and, importantly, all tariffs will be uprated with inflation each year. But large-scale community wind turbines will get a lower tariff than proposed last year, leaving the overall level of support to the industry little changed.
The FITs for new projects will be held at the current rates for two years but then cut by 8.5%, more than originally planned.
Miliband said: “Our plans represent a significant level of ambition and are comparable to countries that are leading in this area.”
But he acknowledged that the overall aim was to produce 2% of the country's electricity by 2020 – much less than the 6% campaigners say is realistic.