SNP and Solar Trade Association turn the heat up on OFGEM over feed-in tariff delays

Jonathan Selwyn
Jonathan Selwyn
Ronnie Cowan, SNP MP
Ronnie Cowan, SNP MP

The SNP and the Solar Trade Association have called for the UK regulator to speed up the approval process for accreditation for feed-in tariffs for larger solar power projects.

The move comes after SNP MP Ronnie Cowan revealed that there are just under 2,000 such applications awaiting approval by OFGEM.

The Dept of Energy (DECC) confirmed the total number of Renewables Obligation Order Feed-in Tariff (ROO-FIT) applications which are awaiting accreditation as of April 2016 is 1,993.

This includes 472 applications for preliminary accreditation, 1,456 applications which have converted to full accreditation or applied for full accreditation, and 65 amendments to existing accredited installations.

OFGEM said it aims to approve applications in under 12 weeks ‘where all the necessary information has been provided.’

Ronnie Cowan MP (Inverclyde/ Greenock) said: “That almost 2,000 applications for feed-in tariffs are awaiting accreditation is both very disappointing and represents a major blow for the promotion of the renewables industry. 

“It is completely unfair to expect small and medium sized businesses to pay the price for the Tories’ lack of ambition when it comes to renewables – they must ensure that progress is made so that this burgeoning industry is not held back by a slow application process. 

“In contrast, the SNP is committed to investing in and supporting the growth of our renewables industry, such as the solar industry, and we will continue to work closely with the Solar Trade Association to progress our proposals for expanding solar energy in Scotland.”

Last year, the then Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing took the decision to reverse a UK government policy to cease financial support for solar PV projects below five megawatts through the devolved ‘grandfathering’ policy which the Scottish Government has control over.

A spokesman for the Solar Trade Association said: “The Department of Energy and Climate Change and OFGEM need to urgently take steps to speed up the accreditation process for big rooftop and ground mount solar installations as a waiting list of almost 2,000 sites across the country is too much, and solar companies are waiting too long to hear back on future or existing projects.

“Many solar businesses are small and medium sized businesses and cannot afford to wait months on end for payments to start. We need more resources to be invested in this area.”

MeanwhileJonathan Selwyn (pictured) and Seb Berry have been elected as the new Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively of the Solar Trade Association (STA)

This comes as Jan Sisson, formerly of Juwi Ltd, who has been at the helm of the organisation for the last two and a half years, has decided to stand down.

Selwyn is Director of Solar Consulting Ltd, and formerly Managing Director of Lark Energy.

He said: “At a time of great change for the UK solar industry, it has never been more important for the STA to stand up and promote our sector. I hope to put my experience to good use in helping steer the STA through the many challenges ahead and I am very grateful to the members for electing me to this position.”

Seb Berry, Head of Public Affairs at Solarcentury has been elected Vice-chair and has served on the STA’s Board of Directors for three years.  He is also a Board member of SolarPower Europe.

He commented: “The STA can rightly be proud of the Feed-in Tariff campaign it fought last year and for the professional resource it continues to devote to crucial public policy and lobbying work.  Many important policy challenges remain and the STA, as the leading lobbying voice of the industry in the UK, has a really vital job to do in the coming months and years.”

Giles Clark of Primrose Solar, Gareth Williams of Caplor Energy and Paul Hutchens of Eco2Solar have also recently joined as Directors of the STA.

The STA represents both solar heat and power, and has a proven track record of winning breakthroughs for solar PV and solar thermal.

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