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Four major reasons to join in the mass lobby of Parliament on changes to the Feed-in Tariff

Posted by Howard Johns on 17 November 2011 at 9:08 pm

Now we have all got over the shock of the announcement of potential changes to the feed-in tariff (FIT) some people in the industry are saying we should just get on and make the 21p work.

In many ways if that was what the plan really was I would agree, but having sat in the Ministerial Roundtable about the FIT changes I am left with more worry than before. The Minister made it quite clear “we have to reduce demand”, and there are a number of things in the announced changes that will make this happen.

1. The timing

Bringing in the changes to the FIT before they have finished consulting is possibly unlawful and certainly highly destructive. We as an industry really need to send a strong signal that we do want to co-operate with Government, but that we really will not stand for this level of bad treatment. It is totally unacceptable to have the goal posts changed in this way and we must make that clear to the decision makers or they will keep doing it. Reason one to join in the mass lobby.

2. The Rates

Perhaps many can make them work – and good stuff if you can. However, you cannot go out and sell on the back of them as this is a consultation and they may change again by the end of the period, leaving all our clients in a pickle. It places a level of uncertainty that is designed to stop our businesses working.  It also stops many of the invested schemes which – although many don’t like them – are crucial to stopping us being branded as a tax on the poor for the green bling of the rich. We need social homes to have PV to keep this balance. Reason two to join the mass lobby.

3. The energy efficiency requirements

This is perhaps the most worrying. A level C energy performance certificate (EPC) is only held by 10%ish of UK homes. It costs between £5-7,000 to get one. Are your clients really going to want to do that to get their FIT? Of course, we all want to see homes be more efficient – but electrical generation is unrelated to building performance so ultimately irrelevant – this standard is well above what is reasonable. It is using criteria from the green deal – which may or may not start in October, and will almost certainly be dominated by large companies. We are being told that this is an opportunity to diversify our businesses – well thanks but I like my business how it is and I don’t want to be an insulation installer. This is a major show stopper and reason three why you need to be at the mass lobby.

4. The ambition

When you dig into the paperwork (the impact assessment), it seems that government is looking to shrink the market from its likely 500MW installed market this year to a market of between 10MW and at most 200MW. That means that at least half of us – if not 90% of us – are likely to go out of business in the new year. Reason four why you need to attend the mass lobby.

So you may be busy trying to beat the 12 December deadline – but you need to take action now to ensure you have a business beyond that date. Come along to the mass lobby on the 22nd November – details here. We need to come together to show that we want a solar future in the UK and tell all of our good news stories. Your MP needs to hear why green growth is essential and your business is needed to make it happen – see you there.

Picture by TranceMist

About the author: Howard Johns is the founder and MD of Southern Solar Ltd and a director of the Solar Trade Association.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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3 comments - read them below or add one


NorthGlosEPCComment left on: 26 November 2011 at 11:46 pm

To be honest I was never completely comfortable with the Solar PV FiT setup but on the whole it is/was a positive initiative.

I didn't like the FiT finance coming from stealth taxes on everyone elses energy bills because those who could never get in on the game also paid including those at or near fuel poverty level. I think the money should come from general taxation revenue, preferably income tax which is based on the ability to pay.

Having said all that a Solar PV FiT of 43p just about made the investment viable for those who could participate. There was still the matter of it being a 25 year life of the installation deal, you still had a payback of about ten years on your initial investment and you were locked in. But 43p per unit still just about made it worthwhile so long as you were happy with a 25 year investment duration.

A reduction to 21p is going to kill this fledgling industry stone dead. The economics no longer offer viability. Even if installers can reduce costs they'll never half them so payback is bound to increase to a timespan almost equal to installation working life expectancy. In addition the other disadvantage of being locked in still exists but now it will of course be worse.

I'd support the lobby to keep the Fit at 43p so long as it's financed through general taxation rather than through the stealth suppliment on energy bills.

I do however agree that qualifying properties should have at least a C level EPC rating. If you receive money in the form of the FiT essentially from the rest of us it's not unreasonable to expect some of the energy produced not to be wasted by venting it into the atmosphere through the fabric of an inefficient property belonging to the FiT recipient. I do not agree that "electrical generation is unrelated to building performance so ultimately irrelevant". What do you think a significant amount of this expensive energy will be used for?

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JanComment left on: 21 November 2011 at 1:23 pm

Why is nobody protesting about the Governments previous U-turn last year?

I installed my panels in April2009 with a promise that the 9.2p would go up in April 2010. Well it did go up to a massive and unsustainable 43.3p but not for me. Mine was reduced to 9p

Would love to get as much as 21p

Let's have some support for early installers please.

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Ted271038Comment left on: 20 November 2011 at 5:55 pm

I think it is disgraceful of the Government to do this - we are supposed to be supporting renewable energy, just because the government did not get their facts right (yet again) on the uptake does not mean that they can change tact almost immediately and try to make solar less attractive to normal householders.

The mass public are not too keen on neuclear power but stand up against wind turbines and now the government does this. 

They need a major re-think.

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