Has the purpose of the feed-in tariff changed?
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 March 2011 at 12:07 pm
Do you know what the purpose of the feed-in tariff is? I thought that I did. I thought that it was about lowering the country's carbon emissions, to help us meet our EU carbon emission reduction targets. But, apparently not.
According to Alasdair Grainger, the DECC official speaking at yesterday's Renewable Energy Marketplace in Exeter, that's the purpose of the renewable heat incentive and the renewables obligation. The feed-in tariff is about increasing the number of people involved in the energy debate, by getting them to engage first hand with energy.
Interesting. Was this Labour's purpose I wonder? If so, it wasn't clear in the original consultation document. Or, is it a repositioning of the feed-in tariff by the Coalition, and quite useful in justifying the fast track review? My money's on the latter.
Anyway, on a domestic level, I find it interesting that the technologies that they have chosen to use for people to 'engage with energy' are solar PV and wind. These are undeniably the most visible, so lots of people see them and begin to think of them as the norm (if they aren't objecting about them to the planners). Is this the engagement they mean? Or is it financial? As an owner of one or other, you can definitely watch the meter ratchet up, and the tariff payments roll in.
However, as an owner of microgeneration technology, I reckon you engage less with the electricity generating ones, than you do with the heat generators. I have solar thermal panels and solar PV, and I definitely engage much more with the solar hot water.
When I turn on the kettle I can't tell whether it's home generated or grid supplied electricity coming down the line. When I look at the controller on the hot water cylinder I can see what contribution to the hot water the sun has made, and whether or not I have to turn on the boiler to top it up.
Today, I know that when I get back from my bike ride later, I'll be able to have a purely solar heated shower. I only think that the computer I'm writing this blog on is running off sun. So why on earth is the financial incentive for one set of solar panels for engagement and involvement, and the other for meeting carbon reduction targets?
Surely enagement and involvement are necessary prerequisites on the road to meeting our carbon reduction targets. In which case, why aren't both engagement with energy and meeting the targets the purpose of all the financial incentives? Or is it just to justify chopping the rates for bigger installations of solar?
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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