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Government crushes solar and biogas hopes


The NFU has reacted with deep disappointment following today’s publication of the Government’s plans for a ‘fast-track’ review of solar and biogas feed-in tariffs.

New tariffs announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which are exactly as proposed in the consultation launched in March, will restrict the solar and farm biogas industries to bit-part roles in the low-carbon economy, the NFU said.

The NFU is particularly disappointed at the absence of concessions to those installing mid-sized solar roofs (over 50 kW) and those with sunk investments in solar farms. There are no transitional arrangements for projects which might fail to meet DECC’s deadline, just seven weeks away.

NFU chief renewable energy adviser Dr Jonathan Scurlock said: “Bringing the worldwide solar industry to Britain as part of the low-carbon economy should have been a no-brainer for the Government. We do not think this policy is rational and it will certainly dent confidence in the Government’s green ambitions.

“The NFU is astonished that DECC has not responded more positively to the 500-plus consultation responses they received from ourselves and a wide range of stakeholders in the emerging solar photovoltaic market.

“Our hopes of increasing the uptake of farm-scale aerobic digestion (AD) have also been dashed by these penny-pinching plans. The NFU and other biogas advocates have shared detailed cost analyses with government officials, and these proposals simply do not go far enough. They will result in a handful of additional AD projects being deployed, not the 1,000 on-farm plants that we have argued would deliver significant multiple environmental benefits in terms of better nutrient management and greenhouse gas abatement.”

The NFU expects no more than five to 10 solar farm projects to be completed before the August 1 cut-off date, with a handful of other large projects on brownfield land and industrial roofs. It is understood that the High Court has granted a Judicial Review to a group of solar developers against DECC, to be heard by the end of July.

1) According to the Renewable Energy Association, 81 per cent of more than 500 respondents to the consultation disagreed with the new tariff bands, and 73 per cent disagreed with the timing of their introduction.

2) Other major economies such as Germany, China and Japan are placing solar at the heart of their energy policy.

3) DECC minister Greg Barker admitted last week that “solar has far more potential than has previously been thought”.

4) The REA and Solar Trade Association are calling upon the Prime Minister to intervene in the tariffs review to limit the resulting damage to energy and industrial policy.

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