DECC ponders new community energy-only FiT rate

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) could develop a new feed-in tariff (FiT) rate under plans putout for consultation on Tuesday.

DECC will look for submissions on the associated costs of developing a community project to help it decide what level to set the rate at.

“We have very little information on which to propose specific tariffs at this stage so we are using this consultation to call for evidence on the pre-development costs, capital costs, operating costs and financial costs of community energy projects,” the consultation document states.

If sufficient evidence cannot be gathered, alternative approaches to bring a community rate in line with equivalent FiT or contracts for difference strike price levels, may be adopted instead.

The maximum size of community energy projects eligible for the FiT could also be doubled from five to 10MW. The change would apply to solar, anaerobic digestion, hydro and onshore wind projects.

The consultation will also look at reappraising its definition of a “community organisation” and the acceptable ownership structures.

With a step up to 10MW, DECC appears to acknowledge that commercial partners may become more necessary. It suggests permitting community/commercial partnerships as long as community ownership is maintained. Another suggestion is for joint ventures where, for example, a 15MW project is developed with a community group owning 10MW of “separate generation units and separate grid connections” and the commercial partner owning up to 5MW, as per the current rules.

DECC appears to have ruled out adding registered charities and Companies Limited by Guarantee (CLGs) to the list of acceptable entities.