Archived press release
Government lowers ambition of green energy scheme

New Government proposals for developing the feed-in tariff (FITs) scheme for small-scale renewable electricity generation will prevent communities from generating their own green power, Friends of the Earth said today (Friday 18 March 2011).

As the Government launched a review of the scheme, the green campaigning charity warned that slashing FITs payments for all solar energy projects over 50kW would effectively halt many existing and planned renewable electricity installations by community groups, schools, businesses, councils and housing associations.

The Government claims its review aims to specifically address concerns that large solar farms - generating 250kW or above - could limit remaining FITs funding available to households. But today's proposals would also halve support for smaller community-scale solar projects under this size.

Friends of the Earth is renewing its call on the Government to show its commitment to feed-in tariffs by expanding the scheme - not weakening it. It says it should do this by:

  • limiting its fast-track review to solar farms over 500kW - this should include investigating the use of planning regulations to restrict large solar PV projects to brown field sites and ensuring they benefit local people
  • lifting the Treasury's £400 million financial cap on the FITs scheme
  • increasing the  ambition of the FITs scheme by trebling targets for powering our homes and communities with green power - this is equivalent to the electricity generated by the giant Drax coal-fired power station.

Friends of the Earth's Head of Policy and Campaigns Craig Bennett said:

"These proposals would devastate support for community-scale solar energy projects - preventing schools, councils, businesses and housing estates from earning and saving money by creating green power.

"Faced with the urgency of cutting carbon emissions and generating green electricity, this is exactly the opposite of what the UK needs - and flies in the face of Coalition promises.

"The Government should treble targets for powering our homes and communities with renewable electricity to create new jobs and boost investor confidence."

ENDS

Notes to editors

1.   The Government is proposing to cut tariff rates for solar PV installations over 50kW (roughly equivalent to 15-20 houses). For more information on today's announcements, see: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn11_027/pn11_027.aspx
http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/fits_wms_gb/fits_wms_gb.aspx

2.   The Government claims that it is reviewing the FITs scheme to address the concern that solar farms will reduce FITs funding available to households. Its Impact Assessment defined solar farms as solar projects generating 250kW and above - but today's proposals would halve support for smaller projects generating 50-150kW. The result is that more money will be available for domestic solar installations, but that community-scale projects such as those on schools and hospitals would be financially unviable.

3.   The feed-in tariff review will be completed by the end of 2011. DECC says tariffs will remain unchanged until April 2012 unless the review shows a need for them to be changed sooner. The review includes a fast-track consideration of solar photovoltaic projects (over 50kW) and a study into the take-up of feed-in tariffs for anaerobic digestion plants on farms. See DECC website for more information.

4.   Friends of the Earth argues that developing renewable energy in the UK - coupled with increased investment in cutting energy waste - are essential if the UK is to meet its targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, secure clean and safe future energy supplies, and boost the economy by creating new green jobs.

 A Friends of the Earth briefing on the feed-in tariff review is available to download.

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust