The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced that it has raised the threshold for community projects under the feed-in tariff (FiT) to 10MW.
The move follows feedback from community groups who felt that the FiT scheme was more suitable for supporting a community project than the existing support offered under the Renewable Obligation (RO).
Announcing the revision, energy and climate change minister Greg Barker said: “The Coalition is determined to drive a step change in the deployment of community energy.
“We want to help consumers, businesses and communities generate more of their own clean, green electricity locally, becoming less reliant on centralised power generation. The expansion of our reformed feed-in tariff will encourage even more communities to get on board.”
However, a number of industry insiders have expressed concern that the raising of the FiT threshold for community projects will not benefit communities seeking solar, as the FiT rates offered by DECC are too low to stimulate demand. Installation levels in the 250kW-5MW band have been particularly disappointing and are predicted to further stagnate under the 6.85p/kWh tariff rate.
When discussing the possibility of an extended FiT scheme, STA CEO Paul Barwell said: “It makes little sense to be looking at increasing the maximum size for FiT-eligible solar projects when it is clear that it is the existing large-scale roof sector that urgently requires attention.
“The FiT is the best mechanism for actors in the commercial, public and community sectors, who need a user-friendly support scheme. We're in danger of developing an illogical and messy policy framework if we don't deal with the obvious failures under the existing scheme.”
The department has expressed its desire to support community energy projects on a number of occasions and is currently calling for evidence to shape the UK’s first community energy strategy due to be launched in the Autumn.
The extension of the upper capacity threshold under the FiT scheme for community projects will be made as part of the Energy Bill process.