The farming industry has welcomed the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) decision to soften plans to slash support for domestic solar and wind power schemes.
The NFU said it meant medium-sized rooftop solar power remained an ‘excellent low-risk investment’ for many farmers with substantial electricity bills.
It is estimated farmers can still make returns of about 10-11 per cent) for 49 kW PV roofs where more than half the electricity generated is used on site.
However DECC said it would cap annual new spending for the FiT at £100m up to the end of 2018/19.
To see the full details on the announcement click here
The NFU said that while it disliked the ‘capping’ of renewables deployment, it was pleased to hear ‘queue management’ will be introduced by restoring a system of tariff guarantees to projects over 50 kW, bringing stability to the pace of deployment.
But the union’s lead on renewable energy, Dr Jonathan Scurlock, said farm wind projects would continue to struggle against both the difficulty in gaining planning approval and the ‘harsh economics’.
The absence of any new FiT rates for anaerobic digestion also ‘cast a pall of uncertainty’ over delivering multiple environmental benefits through on-farm AD, he said.
Mr Scurlock said the union remains concerned at the apparent disconnect in policy between recent Government statements at the Paris CO21 climate talks and the harsh cuts to support imposed upon fast-growing clean energy technologies.
“We continue to call for long-term consistency in low-carbon energy policy – including support for the wide range of land-based renewables and new technologies like battery storage,” added Dr Scurlock.
DECC also confirmed it will end support for all new solar farms supported through the Renewables Obligation scheme from April 1, 2016; including installations smaller than 5MW.
“The decision to end ‘grandfathering’ of support for solar farms, expecting investors to shoulder the risk of unpredictable returns, does not make sense for an energy source that is fast becoming the cheapest form of new generation,” Dr Scurlock said.
“Farmers in England and Wales stand to lose out as developers shift their focus to Scotland, where more consistent support remains available.
“However, subsidy-free ground-mounted solar remains a near prospect, and the industry has shown time and again how adaptable it is to a changing energy policy landscape.”