FiT cuts softened but warning over hydro

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) will also reintroduce the pre-accreditation scheme for solar and wind schemes over 50kW and all hydro and anaerobic digestion generators, despite announcing a scrapping of the programme in September.

DECC will also introduce deployment caps to limit new spending on the feed-in tariff scheme to £100 million up to the end of the 2018-19 financial year.

Most of the feed-in tariffs for solar and wind projects were increased compared with the figures used in the consultation during the autumn, but hydro rates have been cut.

Gus Wood, a partner at law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham said the announcement represented a “softening” of proposals.

“For example, the cuts to the tariffs for small-scale roof-top solar are (marginally) less severe, and the export tariff has (not yet) been cut.”

But he added that “any such softening is mere window dressing - the extent and severity of the changes cannot be denied”.

Government has ‘partially listened’

In a separate announcement, DECC confirmed that it will close the Renewables Obligation scheme to new solar farms from 1 April 2016, a year earlier than previously planned.

Paul Barwell, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “Government has partially listened. It’s not what we needed, but it’s better than the original proposals, and we will continue to push for a better deal for what will inevitably be a more consolidated industry with fewer companies.

“Closing the Renewables Obligation for solar is not in the interests of bill payers when solar is soon to become the cheapest low carbon energy source. Following the Paris agreement, this needs rethinking.”

Renewable Energy Association Chief Executive Nina Skorupska added: “From where we were after the initial consultation, this is a real improvement and praise has to be given to DECC ministers in their willingness to listen and change.”

Hydro cuts criticised

Experts continued to warn that plans to scale-back support for the hydro industry would cause damage.

Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “Government has ignored clear evidence provided by industry that proposed cuts would curtail development and slashed hydro tariffs even further than proposed, in some cases by up to 45%.

“With the vast majority of hydro projects in Scotland, reductions at this level will now mean a recent renaissance in the sector north of the border will effectively come to an end.”

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