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Solar PV still in limbo as DECC appeals High Court decision

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 January 2012 at 10:35 am

The Department of Energy and Climate Change yesterday lodged an appeal on the High Court's decision to allow a judicial appeal against the government's proposals to cut the feed-in tariff for solar PV.

DECC had proposed that a cut off date of 12 December 2011 for the reductions in tariff (from 43p to 21p per kWh for installations of up to 4kWp). This was 2 weeks before the consultation on the changes closed on 23 December. It was this that Judge Mitting declared "unlawful".

This leaves consumers and installers in limbo, not knowing whether any new installs will get the proposed lower rates, or the previous ones. We won't know any more until the High Court decides whether to allow the appeal - it's new term starts on 11 January.

On the FITs appeal, A DECC spokesperson said:

"We have lodged grounds of appeal with the Court of Appeal. We hope that permission will be granted for an appeal and that we can secure a hearing as soon as possible so that we can provide clarity for consumers and industry on the way forward following the consultation.

"The High Court’s decision was based on the view that the proposed approach to implementing new tariffs for solar PV is inconsistent with the FIT scheme’s statutory purpose of encouraging small-scale low-carbon electricity generation.

"We disagree with this for a number of reasons. The overriding aim of the proposed reduction in tariffs for solar PV (as set out in the recent consultation) is to ensure that over the long term as many people as possible are encouraged to install small scale low-carbon generation (including other technologies as well as solar PV) and benefit from the funding available for the FIT scheme. Without an urgent reduction in the current tariffs, which give a very generous return, the budget for the scheme would be severely depleted and there would be very little available for future solar PV generators, or for other technologies. Our view is that the urgent steps we have proposed to protect the scheme for the future are fully consistent with the scheme’s statutory purpose.

"We have also made the point that the judicial review was premature as no decision has yet been taken, and a decision will only be taken after a full analysis of the responses to the consultation."

Friends of the Earth (FoE) was one of the three organisations that sought the judicial appeal on DECC's solar PV feed-in tariff proposals.

"Trying to appeal the High Court’s ruling is an expensive waste of taxpayers’ money – the court says the Government has no realistic chance of winning, and it will prolong uncertainty among solar companies just when they need reassurance," said FoE head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton.

"Ministers should accept the High Court’s decision and end business uncertainty and protect jobs with a clear plan to reduce payments from February, in line with falling installation costs.

"The Government must expand the scheme overall – with all the tax revenue the scheme generates, this can be done at no extra cost to bill payers."

Photo: Friends of the Earth

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Explore Solar

Explore SolarComment left on: 5 January 2012 at 2:12 pm

This government is doing everything to stop the investments in Green Technology. If we take a look at Germany we can see what is achievable. Germany has more than a million solar system installed, which generated 3% of the countries over all electricity in 2011. Even with changes to the feed-in tariff that have reduced solar photovoltaic installations compared with previous boom years, the sector was still the among all other renewable energy sectors in 2011. Germany has phased in the cuts to allow time for companies to adjust to new levels but still continue to grow. The UK government just seam to want to stop a growing industry in its tracks. I have always agreed that cuts are need since the level of FITs payment is high and will still give a good return at 33 -35 pence. But cutting the payment to 21 pence will stop a lot of investment, until prices of panels catch up again. This will not be good for the industry, we would like a smooth change so that both consumers and companies can plan better. Explore Solar is now offering, returns of 8-12%. My view is that the court will not hear the appeal, which will allow a small window for consumers to still get the 43pence, but the time will be short since they can still say that OK the 12th December dreading will be changed to X Jan 2012, after the consultation date dead line. So if you are thing about solar, try to get a system installed now and work on the 21 pence, to make sure that it still workable for you, and if the government is force to change the date back to some time in january, than you may have a chance of the 43 p. We are pricing all our system at 0.21 pence and getting a 8-12% return depending on the panels selected, which is still very good.   For more information please see our web site. http://www.exploresolar.co.uk

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