In the wake of the fast-track feed-in tariff review, a group of UK-based solar firms have joined together to fight the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) decision to dramatically reduce the feed-in tariff amounts for solar systems over 50kW. The group yesterday filed a claim in the High Court in a bid to seek justice against the potentially detrimental effects of the review on the UK’s solar industry.

Speaking out against the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, Alectron Investments, Element Power, Juwi Renewable Energies, Lark Energy, Low Carbon Solar UK, MO3 Power, Donald Anderson, Guy Anderson, Kate Kenyon and The Green Company (Europe), say the DECC has failed to adhere to its previously stated processes for reviewing the incentives, as it has cut the feed-in tariff before the previously stipulated deadline in the year 2012.

“We hope the Secretary of State of Energy and Climate Change will abandon this fast track review and work with us to find a more appropriate solution for the future of the feed-in tariff,” said Mark Shorrock, Chief Executive of Low Carbon Solar UK.

“In pulling back on a commitment to support solar energy, the Government will cause the abandonment of hundreds of community scale schemes. The cost of not getting this right now, aside from the Government meeting its climate change targets, include the creation of new jobs, a diversified income for farmers and landowners, reduced energy costs for businesses and the provision of more secure and reliable energy for the UK.”

It is hoped that a judicial review, which will focus on a series of legal arguments relating to the Government’s handling of the fast track review, can be completed before the end of the Government’s current consultation, which is scheduled to end on May 6.

The judicial review concentrates on the following points:

  • Previous indications by the DECC set clear expectations that a first review of the FiT scheme would take place in 2012 with any resultant changes being implemented in April 2013.  DECC indicated in November 2011 that an earlier review might take place, but this was to be carried out over a 12 month period with any changes to tariffs  implemented from 2012 onwards.
  • No announcement on the trigger for an early review was ever made by the DECC. In order to protect investor confidence the proper course for the Secretary of State was the one he originally stated would be followed, namely setting a clear, and reasoned, trigger for the conduct of an early review. There could then have been a proper assessment of whether the trigger set had been met by deployment.
  • The fast-track review is predicated on a concern about excessive deployment of so-called ‘large scale’. The companies involved in the legal challenge are not aware of any current evidence of ‘excessive deployment’ of this technology. The review is therefore based on a perceived risk of excessive deployment, and belated recognition that the original projections for likely numbers of developments may have been flawed.
  • Targeting ground mounted, grid connected solar PV projects at the larger end of the tariff bands, which are the most cost effective and efficient of the range of possible applications of the technology, is irrational in the context of promoting investment in renewable energy to meet the government’s renewable energy targets whilst balancing the cost to the consumer.

The DECC is expected to contest any judicial review.