This Friday (October 23) the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s small-scale feed-in tariff consultation will close and the department will use all submitted evidence to decide whether or not its proposals – labelled draconian by most of those who’ve read them through – are fit for their purpose.
An 87% cut to the feed-in tariff, coupled with deployment caps on the number of installations eligible for the FiT, would significantly limit the industry and all but stop solar dead in its tracks.
DECC and its energy secretary Amber Rudd claim this is for good reason. The budgetary overspend in the Levy Control Framework has, according to the department, spiralled out of control under the Liberal Democrats and must now be reined in for the sake of the public. Bill payers, DECC says, should not be expected to foot too much of the country’s decarbonisation bill.
And it’s exactly right, only the department’s own impact assessment places that cost to the bill payer at a maximum of £6 per household per year by 2020/2021. Put against the comparatively extravagant costs of nuclear decommissioning and support paid to conventional fossil fuels, it is difficult to find reason behind DECC’s measures.
When the proposals were announced on 27 August it sent shockwaves through the industry. These are still being felt with three prominent installers now having collapsed, more expected to follow suit and international players taking their business – and more importantly investment – elsewhere. As many as 27,000 jobs could go if the proposals are enacted in their current form, devastating the industry and hundreds – if not thousands – of SMEs. For a political party built on the mantra of supporting business, the move is confusing to say the least.
But in the past few weeks the solar sector has outdone itself. It has unified and rallied behind a common cause just as many hoped it would and the response from all quarters has certainly seemed to have made DECC stand up and take notice.
Even Greg Barker, the former energy secretary, felt the need to speak out and condemn the “poor” work carried out by DECC’s independent consultant agency Parsons Brinkerhoff. Good Energy’s own analysis – which today revealed that the true net cost of renewables support is almost two-thirds less than the government indicates and could even provide net benefits to consumers – means that, if anything, Barker was being generous.
Solar Trade Association chief Paul Barwell said that Good Energy’s report was exactly the kind of detailed, measured analysis the consultation needs and it can be just as easily be backed up by you, our readers. DECC’s ministers have stated that they require as much evidence as possible in order to formulate the best response and, with four days left, Solar Power Portal is imploring its readers to submit anything and everything they can in these closing days.
Submitting evidence is simple. It can be submitted here using DECC’s online portal, via email to [email protected] or via post to FITs Review Team, Office of Renewable Energy Deployment, Department of Energy & Climate Change, 2nd Floor Area D, 3 Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2AW. The consultation reference is URB 15D/435. What you provide is entirely up to you, but the more detailed the better.
The overarching message from last week’s Solar Energy UK exhibition was undoubtedly one of positivity, that the industry would continue to survive in spite of the proposed cuts and not because of them. But it patently doesn’t have to be this way. The UK’s solar industry has been one of the country’s brightest success stories in recent years and stands every chance of continuing to be so, but to kneecap it in such a brutal fashion is to the benefit of no one.
Responding to the consultation is absolutely vital to ensuring the government does not do just that.