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Consultation under way

Threat to FiT subsidies puts green projects in jeopardy

Green Cat RenewablesRenewables lobbyists have warned that the UK Government’s plan to end a subsidy programme will threaten the survival of many smaller green energy projects.

Industry body Scottish Renewables says the proposed closure of the Feed-in Tariff Scheme will deter investment in the sector and put hundreds of jobs at risk.

The warning follows the UK government’s call for evidence on the future for small-scale low-carbon generation which has been supported by the Feed-in Tariff scheme.

The consultation proposes closing the feed-in Tariff scheme from March next year.

Scottish Renewables’ senior policy manager Hannah Smith said: “While we are pleased to see this consultation published, it has some worrying consequences for the already struggling small-scale renewables sector.

“The picture for this part of our industry isn’t especially rosy. Since previous cuts to the Feed-in Tariff there has been a drop off in deployment of technologies such as hydro schemes and small-scale wind.

“That, coupled with considerable delay to the publication of this consultation, has already forced businesses into liquidation and created significant uncertainty as to whether small-scale energy generation can survive in the UK.

“From farmers with wind turbines to households with solar panels – and everything in between – the proposed closure of the Feed-in Tariff scheme and lack of clarity from the UK Government on the next steps for the sector has left us all questioning what the future holds.

“Government proposals to close the scheme in its entirety, by its own admission, risk both jobs in the sector and decreases in deployment levels of small-scale low carbon generation. Though we welcome the Call for Evidence into the future for small-scale low-carbon generation, the lack of clarity on support beyond the Feed-in Tariff is not welcome news.”

Miss Smith highlighted the benefits derived from local energy production and consumption.

“What is clear is the huge set of benefits FiT-scale projects deliver: to our energy system, to communities and to consumers the length and breadth of the country.

“At a time when we need to make our energy system smarter and develop a strong post-Brexit economy, denying a future for these technologies makes no sense.

“It is crucial now that we protect these benefits by delivering meaningful support for small-scale renewables through the Call for Evidence, and we look forward to working with the UK Government to do just that.”

The Feed-in Tariff was established in 2010 and provides payments to owners of small-scale renewable generators at a fixed rate per unit of electricity produced, ensuring that the cost of installation is recouped over the lifetime of the generator.

As the cost of renewables has plummeted over the past 8 years, this fixed rate payment has fallen by up to 90%.

Scottish Labour MP for Glasgow North East, Paul Sweeney, said: “Quite apart from the potential impact on the environment, this is disappointing news for the whole renewables sector.

“I am proud to have a world-leading wind turbine maker, Gaia-Wind in my constituency. But the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Feed-in-Tariff and the fact there is no replacement for it is making the commercial environment for these firms increasingly challenging.

“It is sad that UK small-scale renewables firms can sell their excellent technology around the world, yet receive little or no support from their own Government in their endeavours.

“Following this issue has been like watching a slow-motion car crash, with the Tories taking no avoiding action in the three years leading up to the end of the Feed-in Tariff. 

“To start the discussion about the replacement when it is too late to smooth the transition shows that the Tories do not have their eye on the ball at the moment and innovative businesses are paying the price of their short-sighted approach.”

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