Govt. plan to cut feed-in tariff sparks £430m stampede of solar power projects

Solar parc planning applications 2015Planning applications for solar farms have soared since the Government announced it was consulting on plans to end subsidy schemes for solar farms that produce 5 megawatts (MW) of power or below.

The recent data, compiled by construction data experts Barbour ABI, shows that a record 83 applications for solar farms worth a total of £431 million were put in for planning in July –  73 of which were for proposed 5MW or below solar farms.

The research goes on to show that almost two thirds of the solar projects put in for planning in July submitted their applications on or after the 22nd of the month – ie the day DECC launched a consultation on closing the renewables obligation (RO) for solar farms at 5MW or below in capacity.

To make a comparison, 45 applications were submitted for the entire month of June, where as 51 were submitted in just 10 days from 22 – 31 July, immediately after the subsidy cut announcement.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “It was not surprising to see a flood of applicants trying to get projects in the planning pipeline immediately after the announcement of the Government’s solar subsidy clawbacks.”  

“The Government’s stance on solar is that falling costs have made it easier for the industry to survive without subsidies, particularly with the drop in prices for wholesale electricity prices. “

“However the risk here is that diminishing subsidies could falter a growing industry, potentially putting it under major jeopardy. Up to 27,000 jobs are at risk over the coming years in solar alone, not mentioning other renewable technologies, if more subsidy cuts are on the way.”

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