Clean Power Solar panels in the UK set to increase 5x this year, 30x by 2015.

Published on January 23rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


The UK Feed-In Tariff Saga Continues…

January 23rd, 2012 by  

Solar panels in the UK set to increase 5x this year, 30x by 2015.

This is a special guest post from Martin Breeman of Intelligent Energy Solutions, a regular reader of our site. Enjoy his useful perspective on the crazy story (as it now stands) regarding the UK’s solar feed-in-tariff scheme:

by Martin Breeman

At a time when unemployment is reaching record levels in the UK, people could be forgiven for asking why the government insists on cutting the feed-in tariff rates for solar power in such a drastic manner, when they have been driving growth in the sector, creating much-needed jobs, and generating tax revenue. The main issue behind the government’s actions is that the feed-in tariff scheme is in danger of exceeding its budget, but the decision to cut the rate before the consultation period had finished simply didn’t make sense, which is why the High Court deemed it to be illegal.

Similarly, the government’s choice to appeal this decision doesn’t seem to make much sense either, and it has only served to cast a shadow of uncertainty over the UK solar power industry. It’s clear that the economy is stuttering with several growth forecasts downgraded over the course of 2011, and it’s quite hard to see where the recovery might come from, with many experts predicting more trouble for Europe in 2012. This is why it is important for the UK to generate its own domestic demand without relying on export-led growth from Europe and the solar power industry, one area which has been thriving from the government support in the form of feed-in tariffs.

Many academics and experts in economics often discuss ways to stimulate an economic recovery, and their focus often includes government investment in infrastructure projects, which create much-needed jobs. This includes areas such as transport, housing, and energy, which is why the decision to halve the feed-in tariff for solar panels with such a short notice period has been criticised by many supporters of clean energy.

With the scheme in danger of surpassing its budget, action needs to be taken, which includes either reducing the feed-in tariff or extending the budget. If the government chooses to reduce the tariff, this should be carried out in small steps over a long period to reduce the impact on an industry that has experienced a recent and rapid expansion. The alternative is to extend the budget to support the 4,000 solar businesses operating across the UK, but there appears to be very little discussion on this choice, which may show that the government doesn’t even consider it an option.

The UK government’s commitment to clean energy will be closely examined in the coming months and the manner in which it chooses to reduce feed-in tariff rates will have a significant impact on one of the only industries helping to stimulate growth and create jobs in the UK.

For those looking to install a solar PV system this year, Intelligent Energy Solutions suggests you make sure that the installation is completed and registered before the 31st of March 2012, to give you the best chance of receiving the original feed-in tariff.

Image Credit: telex4 (CC BY 2.0 license)

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Thanks!

  • Matter26

    90% of the income for solar projects is the FIT subsidy. And the real disaster for solar in the UK is that it is barely useful: making too much in summer and too little in winter, meaning we need winter only power stations. Which guarantees we’ll lock in coal, gas or expensive imported electricity in winter.

    Why not use the subsidy for technology which is cheaper and useful in the UK?

    I agree that the government has handled the scale down badly, but it was a stupidly thought out policy to begin with.

    • Galvanically Isolated

      Could you please substantiate your “90%” People who actually have the good sense to do their research instead of repeating lies and hearsay, will verify that a 4kw south facing system will generate around 3500kwh per annum, this will save you about £500 PA (if you use it all) at current electricity prices and will pay you around £700 in FIT payments. Looks more like 60/40% to me. Your response would be welcome, though unlikely.

      • Rational voice

        The return to the investor of the nominal 4kW system is skewed by the FiT subsidy payment which is made by taxpayers. I cannot understand why we believe that a 20 year inflation adjusted taxpayer funded subsidy should be made to anyone buying PV panels. Absolutely silly!

        • Galvanically Isolated

          The FIT payment is not paid through tax revenue and in fact has nothing to do with the government at all (you to yave been taken in by the blatant lies). It is paid out of the energy companies vast profits. What you should be much more concerned about, are the much larger amounts of power subsidy that are being paid directly from the tax payers pocket. If you don’t believe in subsidising power generation and you managed to get this henious practice stopped, your lights would go off as of now and not be coming back on any time soon (unless you installed solar PV). The nuclear and wind industry is funded to the tune of tens of billions every year paid for by you, (presuming that you actually pay any tax).
          BTW a 4kw system means that on average you will halve the amount of electricity you use (and therefore halve the amount has to be generated for your use) over 25 years. only a bitter, jelous, zealot would think that was “silly”.

    • Nathan

      But standard grids already have summer only peak power plants. How would that be much different? It may even cancel out the need for them.

      • Anonymous

        The UK’s peak demand is about 50 GW in the winter, when solar is almost useless, vs. about 40 GW in the summer.

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