An alliance of 100 organisations – representing tens of thousands of workers, small businesses, retailers, farming groups, co-operatives and local government representatives – has written to the Prime Minister to express its support for small scale renewable electricity ahead of an expected review of the Feed-in Tariff.
Signatories of the letter included: Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive, Renewable Energy Association; Ramsay Dunning, General Manager, Co-operative Energy; Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association; and Charles Middleton, Managing Director, Triodos Bank. It comes against a backdrop of unexpected cuts in the renewable energy sector in the first months of the new Government.
Julia Groves, Chief Executive, Trillion Fund, a crowdfunding platform and one of the signatories to the letter, commented: “The Feed-in Tariff puts power into the hands of people and communities, as can be seen from the sheer variety of organisations which have signed this letter. Rather than seek to take that away, the Government should make sure it maintains support as costs continue to fall.”
The Feed in Tariff is the system which enables individuals and communities to install their own renewable power and receive a small payment for each unit of electricity it produces. So far nearly 700,000 homes across the UK have installed renewables, with most of them rooftop solar.
Leo Murray, Director of Strategy, climate campaign group 10:10, said: “The Government could not have picked a worse time to throw into doubt its commitment to green energy. The UK will not be taken seriously at December’s UN climate talks in Paris if it has done nothing but undermine confidence in our national decarbonisation plans for the last six months.
“The Feed-in Tariff has been one of the most successful and popular parts of these plans. Maintaining strong growth in local renewables through the Feed-in Tariff would be a clear signal that David Cameron is still serious about tackling climate change.”
The solar PV industry, which makes up 99% of the installations and 84% of the capacity of Feed-in Tariff projects so far, is still reeling from a catalogue of cuts and postponements over the last few weeks affecting larger solar developments, as well as the scrapping of targets for Zero Carbon Homes.
Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs, Solar Trade Association, said: “We are looking to the Prime Minister to take control of energy policy after a summer of hugely damaging policy decisions. There was nothing in his manifesto about rolling back solar power which Government’s own polling shows is supported by over 80% of the British public.
“Government says it wants to save householders money – it can best do that by thinking ahead and providing a stable path over the course of this Parliament to subsidy-free solar power.”
It is estimated that a number of the technologies supported by the Feed-in Tariff only need a short period of policy support, at relatively little cost per unit of power, before they can compete subsidy-free and begin to bring energy bills down. For example, if 170,000 homes go solar this year that will only add 50p to the average annual household energy bill.
The Feed-in Tariff review is feared to be the latest chapter in a series of changes and cuts announced by the new Conservative government since coming to power affecting onshore wind, the Green Deal, the Green Investment Bank, the Climate Change Levy and the new flagship Contracts for Difference auction system.