The UK commercial rooftop sector has received a significant boost today after the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) rubber stamped so-called ‘lift and shift’ proposals, allowing businesses to take rooftop solar panels with them should they move.
DECC confirmed the news on Friday morning, stating that from 2019 medium and large installations will be allowed to move without losing feed-in tariff payments.
It had previously been the case that accredited installations lost FiT (FiT) support if they were moved, a restriction which many within the industry had felt was holding back the sector.
Commenting on the changes Amber Rudd, minister for energy and climate change, praised the added incentive lift and shift would have on the industry.
“Not only will rooftop solar drive down bills and create jobs, it will help us deliver the clean, reliable energy supplies that the country needs,” she said.
The proposals are set to be made in secondary legislation published later this year, however businesses face a four-year wait before being allowed to move after DECC said it would need time to “achieve the desired policy intention”.
DECC has also added a number of conditions to the approval based on the responses it received during a consultation process which began in November last year.
Lift and shift will only apply to other-than-stand-alone installations greater than 50kW in size and to qualify for the FiT the building’s solar installation must contribute at least 10% of its energy demand.
Any additional capacity added during a company’s move will be treated as an extension to its existing FiT contract, meaning that businesses will not miss out if they look to bolster their installations after moving offices.
Businesses will also not be required to receive planning permission or a grid connection agreement prior to any move, however, Ofgem will be allowed to charge a fee based on a cost-recovery basis for any costs incurred.
Reacting to the news, Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association (STA) said: "In order to obtain financing on better terms and reduce investment risk, it is so important for businesses to be able to take their solar installations with them if they move. Almost a year and a half ago, the STA identified this as one of the major barriers to more solar PV on big rooftops. And it is now a barrier that, together with the government, we have done away with.
“We are glad to see that DECC have listened to our response and made sure that investing in solar is as flexible as possible, allowing businesses to change the size of their rooftop installation and taking on board some of our other reccommendations to help people lift and shift. Not all roofs are equal in size or shape.
“The fact that the new rules will only apply four years after the law is passed will slightly complicate things but the principle of solar now being a more flexible investment is unchanged, and the new rules will still help the bankability of projects going up today.”
The consultation responses released by DECC this morning showed an overwhelming support for the idea from those surveyed with 86% of respondents backing the proposals.