The Solar Trade Association (STA) has hit back at the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) proposed slashing of support for solar under the Renewable Obligation (RO) from 2 ROCs down to just 1.5 ROCs.

The STA feels that the solar industry successfully rose to DECC’s challenge last year to reduce its costs to a level whereby it could operate successfully under 2 ROCs – the level DECC considered solar to be competitive with other key renewables. Despite, the industry’s efforts large-scale solar in the UK is set to be once more derailed under the current proposals.  

STA CEO Paul Barwell said: “We have delivered really exceptional cost reductions in the solar industry, yet we once again face having the rug pulled from under us. The proposed 25 percent cut is too big and too soon. 

“We understand DECC have concerns about how solar will interact with other renewable technologies under the RO, and how it will influence the budget, but deliberately under-rewarding solar to curtail the industry is definitely not the solution. 

“This is not a fair proposal and it is not in the public interest to constrain a cost-effective technology.”

The STA has also expressed dismay at the delay of an expected consultation that will include proposals to remove sub 5MW solar from the RO scheme. The trade association believes that it is vital that both consultations are considered together, to ensure coherent framework. At the moment, it is expected that around 500MW of solar is projected to be installed under the RO, with the majority of the proposed projects under 5MW.

The STA believes that DECC’s plans to slash RO support by 25 percent is based on the department’s apparent ambition to align the RO to the current 7.1p/kWh afforded to projects >250kW-5MW under the feed-in tariff (FiT).  However, the STA argues that the upper levels of the FiT were not set at a sufficient level to encourage investment, as larger investors would proceed under the RO scheme.

Barwell said: “The STA does not consider alignment with the deliberately ineffective 7.1p FIT a credible basis for setting support for RO solar. It is vital that industry provides the supporting information to DECC, and that DECC really listens to the evidence on this consultation – it must match their rhetorical ambition of 22GW.” 

Barwell also expressed his frustration with the low deployment projections presented in the consultation which were based on out-of-date information. He added: “We're perplexed as to why these old projections have been repeated in this consultation. Projections of a few megawatts, rather than gigawatts of solar obviously are not consistent with the hard-won ambitions for solar that DECC Ministers have clearly articulated.”

In response to the news, the STA is currently setting up its own Large Scale PV Group consisting of installers, developers and investors. The group will be charged with provided DECC with detailed feedback for the Governmental consultation. DECC’s full consultation document over proposed changes to the RO banding for solar can be read in full here