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BLOG: Why the Government is missing a trick by stalling on the Feed-in Tariff consultation

Nick Sharpe

Director of Communications

Posted on 09/02/2018 by Nick Sharpe

Just as our industry is about more than the power we generate, government support mechanisms are about more than industry backing.

 

The delay to the Feed-in Tariff consultation has been causing the energy industry concern for some time.

With the scheme set to close to new applicants in March 2019, renewable energy generators are getting increasingly frustrated by the delay in a promised consultation on the future of the FiT.

Clean growth is central to Government policy ambition, and the Feed-in Tariff scheme has a strong track record in helping support small-scale renewable energy production across the UK.

Solar, hydro, wind, AD and others have all seen a renaissance as the FiT created investor certainty in the market and awakened communities to the opportunities small-scale renewables created.

But the Feed-in Tariff is about more than money in = megawatts out.

The type of small-scale generation it supports is likely to become the back-bone of the modern, dynamic energy system towards which we’re heading.

A smart and flexible energy system – sensitive to consumers' shifting demand patterns, using clean energy, community-based, and linking to smart technologies – is what governments and the regulator want to see.

It’s Feed-in Tariff scale technology that will help decarbonise our cities, and community-scale projects that can help tackle fuel poverty at source.

This holistic approach, uniting not just energy (electricity and heat) but transport too, is the ambition set out in the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy and BEIS’ Smart Systems Plan.

Continued uncertainty over the Feed-in Tariff could jeopardise all those ambitions.

Policy ambition and policy action aren’t married up – but the real frustration is that the FiT has delivered beyond the energy industry.

Take, for example, agriculture.

It’s not news that the potential impacts of Brexit have been causing farmers particular concern. To combat economic struggles of late many have invested in renewable energy, with the Feed-in Tariff a vital revenue stream when making the decision to install renewables on-site.

A lack of clarity over the FiT’s future is as concerning for that sector as it is for ours.

That’s why, earlier this month, Scottish Renewables coordinated a group of ten trade associations to write to Westminster and set out the frustrations that this delay is causing us all.

Crucially, this letter was signed by not just energy associations, but also National Farmers Union, Scotland; Scottish Land & Estates and the Country Land and Business Association

By stalling on the Feed-in Tariff, Government is missing a trick.

It’s an effective tool in meeting its own energy policy objectives, and could be used to help offer industries an economic opportunity in the midst of some of the greatest political and constitutional uncertainty the country has ever known.

 

Pic: Absolute Solar and Wind