UK bids to end solar tariff uncertainty

The UK government has attempted to resolve a row over cuts to subsidies for domestic solar energy which has cast a shadow over the previous success of its Feed-in-Tariff scheme.

Ministers planned to halve the payments to new household solar panels installed from December 12, 2011 onwards, because they said the falling costs of the technology made the subsidies too generous and the scheme risked spiralling over budget.

If this went ahead, the new tariffs would have been imposed while a consultation period on them – which closed on December 23 – was still running.

But the move was challenged in the High Court last week by environmental campaigners and solar companies and a judge agreed that cutting the subsidies within the consultation period was unlawful.

The government plans to appeal against the decision, but meanwhile Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker yesterday set out provisions to bring in new tariffs from April for all new installations registered from March 3.

Barker said: I know this a difficult time for the sector and I want to do as much as I can to end the current uncertainty created by the legal challenge.”

He said it was “too important to sit and do nothing” while waiting for the Court of Appeal result.

The licence modifications confirm that from March 3 installations with less than 4kW of capacity will see incentives halved to 21p/kWh, while large installations with between 50kW and 250kW of capacity will see feed-in tariff payments cut to 12.9p/kWh. Mid-sized installations with 4-10kW will see tariffs cut from 37.8p to 16.8p/kWh, while installations with 10-50kW capacity will face a cut in the level of support from 32.9p to 15.2p/kWh.

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