The group of UK solar companies behind the campaign against the reduction of the subsidies for larger projects has asked the courts to quash the government’s review altogether.
Greg Barker, energy minister, announced in March that the government intended to cut the level of public subsidy for large solar farms after a brief review of feed-in tariffs.
The companies have filed a claim in the High Court for judicial review against Chris Huhne, energy secretary, and hope they can get the energy department to start all over again on the process of deciding which projects get which subsidies.
The groups have included four arguments in their case:
- The energy department previously indicated that the review would take place in 2012, with changes being implemented in 2013.
- There was a suggestion that an early review could take place based on a certain “trigger point”, but that trigger point was never set.
- There is no evidence of the “excessive deployment” of large-scale solar power about which the energy department warns.
- Large-scale solar is more cost effective, and so reducing subsidies at the larger end to balance the cost to the consumer doesn’t make sense.
As Italy becomes the latest European government to consider changing its solar subsidies, ministers should pay attention to today’s report into green investment from the Pew Environment Group.
The report looked like good news for European governments. Private investment into renewables in the European region totalled $94.4bn, about $20bn more than in 2009, and more than any other world region.
Germany and Italy both surged, with more than 100 per cent growth in investment in small-scale solar installations.
In this week’s readers’ Q&A session, Francesco Starace, chief executive of Enel Green Power, answers your questions.
Less than a year after the company’s troubled flotation, Francesco answers your questions on the effect of the Japanese nuclear crisis on renewables, EGP’s management structures and changes to European solar subsidies.
Next week, Keith Parker, chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, will be in the hotseat. Send all your nuclear-crisis related questions to email@example.com by the end of Sunday, March 27th.
But for now, over to Francesco:
The government points out that its proposed reduction in feed-in tariffs for large solar arrays will not apply retrospectively. Only new entrants after August 1 this year will be affected by the plans.
But it can take 12–18 months to set up a big solar power scheme. In practice, plenty of companies are part of the way through the process of securing planning permission from local authorities and connection permits from network operators.
They will already have spent large sums of money – yet the proposed changes could rob their schemes of any commercial viability. Philip Wolfe is the founder and managing director of Ownergy, a company that helps customers install and maintain solar arrays.
Greg Barker, the UK energy minister, has completed his review of subsidies for solar power under the feed-in-tariff scheme, and, as expected, he has reduced the amount of money available for installations that provide over 50kW.
Ministers say the idea behind this review is to make sure that large-scale solar farms don’t hoover up money that was meant for households and small businesses to install a small amount of solar power (usually with solar panels on roofs).
The UK government’s plan to review the scope of its feed-in tariff looks sensible. The scheme is there to stimulate small-scale solar energy production, the reasoning goes, so we should stop large corporations from soaking up subsidies meant for householders with panels on their roofs.
But the review is in danger of giving the renewables industry and its investors very mixed messages.
In this week’s readers’ Q&A session, Magued Eldaief, the head of GE’s UK energy business, answers your questions.
In the first of two posts, he discusses the future for nuclear power in northern Europe, wind power in the developing world and whether it is better to back small- or large-scale power generation projects.
In the second post, he discusses subsidies for carbon capture and storage, legislation to curb emissions and the future of smart metering.
Next in the hotseat is Iam Simm, chief executive of Impax Asset Management. He will be answering your questions next Friday, January 28th. Send in your questions for consideration by the end of Sunday, January 23rd to firstname.lastname@example.org.
But for now, over to Magued:
The UK energy secretary has promised to ensure that industrial-scale solar farms do not swallow up too much of the money dedicated to incentivising small-scale renewables projects.
Answering Energy Source readers’ questions, Chris Huhne said that access to feed-in tariffs could be limited to make sure smaller-scale projects get a fair share.
Two days ago, before Chris Huhne announced his package of measures to shake up the UK electricty market, a group of energy industry insiders and experts told Energy Source what they wanted to see from the reforms. Now that we know the details, and people have had time to figure out what they mean, the question remains, did they get what they wanted?
Chris Huhne, the UK energy secretary, will tomorrow announce the details and scope of the government’s consultation on electricity market reform (EMR). The bill will come before parliament in the spring, but tomorrow’s announcement is expected to give some indications of the direction of government thought on certain key issues.
Huhne will be answering your EMR-related questions on this blog next week – email email@example.com by Friday, December 17th to pose your question. Meanwhile, here is what the energy industry wants to see ahead of the tomorrow’s release: