Skip to main content
Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

YouGen Blog

Legal battle over solar feed-in tariff ends in defeat for DECC

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 March 2012 at 11:31 am

Solar installations made between 12 December 2011 and 3 March 2012 will get the higher rate of feed-in tariff (43.3p for up to 4kW systems) as the Supreme Court rejected DECC's appeal on Friday.

The industry has been dogged with uncertainty since the legal battle began in December last year. Friends of the Earth, Solarcentury and HomeSun took the government to court over its decision to cut the tariff rates to 21p before the consultation period was over. The High Court ruled that this was unlawful.

The government appealed, and lost, and then took its case to the Supreme Court. The court's decision not to allow the government leave to appeal puts an end to the ongoing saga, and will hopefully end the uncertainty that has been so damaging to everyone involved in the industry.

"We are disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court not to grant permission to hear this case," said Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey. "But the Court's decision draws a line under the case. We will now focus all our efforts on ensuring the future stability and cost effectiveness of solar and other microgeneration technologies for the many, not the few."

The official statement from the Court said: “Permission to appeal was refused because the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court at this time, bearing in mind that the case has already been the subject of judicial decision and reviewed on appeal and because paragraph 16 of the Court of Appeal's judgment disposes of the proposed argument based on the subject of the challenge being only a proposal,” read the ruling.

The current FIT rate for small solar systems of 21p per kWh generated, plus 3.1p per kWh exported still gives a rate of return considerably higher than the government's target of 4.5%. This rate is only available until 30 June 2012, when it will be reduced. All installations after 1 April will have to  meet the new energy efficiency criteria of EPC level D to claim this rate.

Photo by s_falkow By

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

Like this blog? Keep up to date with our free monthly newsletter


4 comments - read them below or add one

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 27 March 2012 at 4:11 pm

Good question Fred, and not something that anyone can answer yet if DECC's messages that this is a real consultation and they are listening are to be believed. Read this blog to see Ray Noble's of the Solar Trade Association's assessment of the position, and his recommendations about how to respond to the consultation. My feeling (and one that others speaking on the Solar Power UK Roadshows agree with) is that installers are going to have to stop selling solely on rate of return with the new rates.

report abuse


Fred1Comment left on: 27 March 2012 at 1:20 pm

Cathy, I note that so far this month there have been 28,887 solar PV installations with capacity of 110.667 MW, I guess we are on track for more than 200MW of capacity in March and April. What does this mean for tariffs post July 2012, 13p ?? if you have good insulation already and 4p  ?? if you can't meet the insulation rules????

What return can you make at these levels, what would the capital cost have to reduce to to get 10% "return"/ 4.5% Rate of Return/4.5 % APR



report abuse

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 27 March 2012 at 10:25 am

Hi Fagashken - I wouldn't bank on getting the extra bonus from the meter turning backwards for too long. Once your energy company twigs that it's happening it will probably want to replace it with a digital one!

But that doesn't take away for the great feeling of generating from the sun. I can't give you a direct comparison, as I haven't taken readings on the same dates as you. But yesterday my hot water cylinder was a 70 degrees at top and bottom, all heated by the solar thermal panels. Lovely!

report abuse


FagashkenComment left on: 26 March 2012 at 2:37 pm

Love the Sunshine !! How does this compare ? My 4 Kwh solar panels produced 103 Kwh also my electricity day meter units went backwards 20 Kwh Thats from Sunday to Sunday last week,I was using all my electrical appliances as normal. Bring on the Summer !!

report abuse

Leave a comment

You must log in to make a comment. If you haven't already registered, please sign up as a company or an individual, then come back and have your say.