Engineers fit solar panels to a roof at Silvertown Solar Village, Docklands, London. Photograph: Alamy
Last week the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) released ‘a written ministerial statement by Edward Davey on reforming the Feed-in-Tariffs scheme.’ These proposed changes to the Feed-in-Tariffs (FITs) were the first time Mr Davey was able to publicise his position within the DECC after Mr Chris Huhne resigned as energy secretary at the beginning of this month.
Below is a summary of the changes announced last week that will directly affect the solar feed-in-tariff rate and the way in which it operates.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) requirement to level D
The DECC have said that properties must now hold a level D EPC from April 1, 2012 to receive the full value of the FiTs. Currently until this date, there is no official requirement for an EPC prior to solar PV installation national grid connection.
For those who are unsure of what an EPC is, it’s the information on your home’s energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. The certificate itself gives you information on how to make your home more energy efficient.
DECC clarified that people who want to use solar PV towards obtaining an EPC rating of D would need to “have the solar panel system installed, conduct an EPC and then apply for the FiTs scheme. The EPC must be sent with the documentation relating to registration for FiTs.”
The tariff rates are exactly as DECC confirmed on January 19, as laid out below:
*The on-going FiT legal disagreement means that an assurance for this particular rate cannot be guaranteed. However it is worth noting that 43.3p kWh will be paid for all systems that were registered between December 12 2011 an April 1, 2012 due to the government loss of the recent appeal.
This tariff level is subject to change come July 2012 and the rate will depend of the level of capacity installed during March 2012 and April 2012. The new tariff options are outlined as below:
The outcome of the appeal, although lost, has allowed the government to take the appeal to the Supreme Court. This has bought them time and allowed further uncertainly to spread across the market. Should the case reach Supreme Court, it should formalise the tariff rate for those homeowners who had PV installations during the 12 December 2011 & 1 April 2012 period. Should the government win, and this is doubtful, the homeowner would receive a rate of 21p kWh for the rest of the guarantee period which currently stands at 25 years. Should the case be thrown out and the appeal lost, the homeowner will receive the higher rate of 43.3p kWh for the rest of the guarantee period.
Either way April 1, 2012 is certainly a date for the diary for anyone interested in the outcome but hopefully the result of the Supreme Court appeal should be announced before this date.
DECC's proposed mechanism for changing tariffs after July will include an automatic baseline transgression of 10% every six months, which can be triggered early if deployment exceeds pre-determined levels. The system will be reviewed annually to ensure that it is performing well against its objectives.
Announcing the new changes, climate change minister Greg Barker said:
"Our new plans will see almost two and a half times more installations than originally projected by 2015 which is good news for the sustainable growth of the industry. We are proposing a more predictable and transparent scheme as the costs of technologies fall, ensuring a long term, predictable rate of return that will closely track changes in prices and deployment."
Some of the other changes:
The reduced tariff rate of 21p kWh will remain in effect from 1st April 2012, for domestic sized solar panels with an eligibility date on or after 3rd March 2012. Other tariff changes will apply for larger installations.
From 1st April 2012, a new ‘multi-installation’ tariff will be set at 80% of the standard tariff. This will apply to existing installations where a single individual or organisation is already receiving FiT subsidies for other solar PV installations.
Due to the ‘unlawful’ cuts that were first ruled on the cuts in December 2011, the government have said these changes should bring "transparency, longevity and certainty,” we’ll see…