Greenpeace’s chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said the decision is ‘perverse’ | Credit: 10:10 Climate Action
Feed-in Tariff scheme will officially close on March 31, government confirms, leaving new solar PV owners exporting green power to the grid for free
The government has today confirmed controversial plans to axe the export tariff for solar power, which guarantees owners of PV panels money for excess energy they produce.
Campaigners have for months been fighting to save the export tariff after the government revealed plans to scrap the flat rate payments to households after March 2019, when the Feed-in Tariff subsidy scheme will also end.
But despite overwhelming opposition to the plans being expressed through the official consultation, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) today confirmed both the Feed-in Tariff and the export tariff will close to new participants next year as originally planned.
It will mean households with solar panels installed after that date will be expected to give away any unused solar power to the grid for free, a decision Greenpeace’s chief scientist Dr Doug Parr slammed as “perverse”.
“Solar prices have plummeted, and the solar industry is on a path to subsidy-free status,” he said. “Ministers should be looking for ways to help this affordable technology expand instead of putting spanners in the works.”
BEIS insisted the time was right to end the Feed-in Tariff subsidy scheme for solar power, adding that current “fixed and flat rate” export tariff does not “align” with government objectives to push solar policy towards more market-based solutions.
“The Feed-in Tariffs scheme has overachieved on its original objectives, outstripping installation predictions by nearly 100,000 with over 820,000 solar installations producing enough power for two million homes,” a spokesman for the Department said. “But it’s only right we protect consumers and adjust incentives as costs fall, with solar having fallen by 80 per cent, and we will consult shortly on a future framework for small-scale renewable energy generation.”
More than 91 per cent of respondents to the consultation over the move disagreed with proposals to axe the export tariff, and the campaign to save it has been backed by the Mayor of London and a host of MPs, as well as big energy firms and smaller clean tech start-ups.
Neil Jones of 10:10 Climate Action, which has been campaigning against the scrapping of the export tariff, said the decision is “hard to fathom”. “Solar has been a huge success story, seeing a million homes and a thousand schools taking clean energy and climate action into their own hands,” he said.
“Yet the government has bizarrely decided to prevent new homes, schools and businesses installing solar after March from being paid for the energy they export to the grid. While coal fired power stations continue to profit, households wanting to go green will be left out of pocket.”
The government said it does recognise the concern that small scale renewables may be left without a route to market, and said it will come forward with specific proposals to address that “in due course”.
“We will consult shortly on a future framework for small-scale renewable energy generation,” the spokesman added.
Dr Alan Whitehead, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, accused the government of “pushing the solar industry off a cliff edge.”
“Expecting future solar projects to give their power to energy companies for free is not right or fair, and the government must urgently bring forward alternative plans,” he said.
Chris Hewitt, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said at the bare minimum BEIS should hold the export tariff in place until it comes forward with new policy options.
“Nobody is saving any money here because the export tariff is not a subsidy,” he said. “Last month Energy Minister Claire Perry said that she would not allow a situation where solar generators would have to give away their power for free. We urgently need her to set out the detail behind plans for an export floor price as soon as possible to prevent the uncertainty that today’s announcement will create from damaging market confidence any further.”