Feed in Tariff Scheme latest
No clearer harmony over FiTs after landmark legal victory for environmental and solar groups.
In December 2011, a high court judge ruled that the proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariff Scheme for solar power by the UK Government were unlawful and were already having a severely detrimental impact on the industry.
The case had been brought to the High Court by environmental organisation Friends of the Earth alongside solar groups following the Government’s decision to slash the tariff for small-scale solar projects (up to 4kW in size) from 43.30/kWh to 21p/kWh. The Government took the decision because the higher level tariff was attracting too much funding.
Mr Justice Mitting (the high court judge) ruled that implementing the proposal to cut the tariff in the middle of a consultation period was unlawful. He also refused permission for the Energy Secretary to appeal, however, DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change) lodged with the Appeals Court and has a hearing this Friday (13th January).
Interestingly, Gaynor Hartnell, the Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association responded to the decision by warning that the impact of the ruling could further increase instability in the industry.
The implications of the judicial review mean that the original tariff (pre-December 12th 2011) cannot be changed until after the full eight-week parliamentary process, followed by a review of the responses, and then a 40-day period before the legislation takes effect. She was quoted in the press as saying that the majority of the Renewable Energy Association’s members were in favour of a reduction in the tariff and had called for a 25% reduction starting in March 2012.
For my part, I am in no way playing down the effect this whole debacle has had on the solar industry. I’ve witnessed first-hand the consequences for installers of cancelled contracts, redundancies and closed businesses, but I am also well aware of how much of the tariff (funded by consumers through their energy bills) has ended up in less deserving hands than those of individual electricity customers. I also think that founding a company solely on the basis of exploiting such a scheme – whether legitimately or not – is an extremely risky strategy. The fund was bound to run out at some point.
The good news is that for now solar is still very much a part of the renewables landscape. The Aros Solar Inverter product range covers both domestic and commercial/industrial applications from 1.5 to 500kW and includes a host of monitoring and customisation options. Aros Solar Inverters are accredited for use in the UK market and are available from Riello UPS Ltd.