The UK feed-in tariff: anticipation is met with disappointment

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Since the feed-in tariff policy has been deliberated by the UK government for three months now, it seems odd that we haven’t heard a peep from them on what the policy will be. As I dug a bit further into this subject I found that it I wasn’t alone in not knowing what was going on. After being thrown from person to person at the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, I finally found someone who knew what a feed-in tariff was, and I was able to get some, although rather vague, answers.

Considering the UK is so far behind its European neighbours in the race for renewable energy implementation, the Department of Energy and Climate Change consultation’s results have been much anticipated. Speaking with a DECC spokesperson I delved a little deeper into the mystery of why nothing is yet set in stone. Back in July this year PV-tech commented on this proposal’s flimsiness in terms of what these plans actually meant for  the UK’s renewable future. We thought it was important to outline that there was a proposal, but also to make note of the fact that any aspect of it could change at any point. One thing we now know for sure is that there will be a renewable energy structure and this will be implemented in April 2010.

This however, is all we know.

When speaking with the DECC it became more and more clear that the UK’s plans for this policy are still very much up in the air. The first thing I asked was whether or not anything has actually come out of the consultation period. “We have had a large number of responses to the consultation paper, around 800 of these coming thorough in the last days before it closed,” they explained.  “These responses outlined several alternatives to the proposals, some of them showing a common theme, others a unique response…we are now spending time going through these responses.”

It was clear from this reply that the influx of responses to the consultation paper was slightly unexpected. I thought about this, and whether it would hold up the policy details further. The DECC assured me that the target for the policy implementation would remain on schedule, with the plans put into action by April 2010. The deadline for the results of the consultation period will be put down on paper no later than February 2010, yet no specific timeline could be issued in regards to this. “I really couldn’t say when this will come out,” they remarked.

Further investigation needed to be done about what these alternative proposals put forward were; however, as expected, the DECC would give me no clue other than there were some, and that there were many. One, which I queried the Department about, was the 10p increase in the tariff being fought for by groups such as the ‘We Support Solar’ campaigners. I managed to get out of the spokesperson that this was being considered, however he did not want to give any details about the likelihood of its execution.

The DECC did allude to the fact that the 10p proposal was more likely to pass, as, “there are certainly a lot of people supporting this change.” The group is not only backed by those supporting PV in the UK but also ‘green’ campaigners and politicians including Jeremy Leggett, chairman of SolarCentury, Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Spokesperson and Nick Sireau, Solar Aid Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK.

More unique proposals from individuals are likely to be swept under the carpet.

It seems then, after much anticipation, that we are none the wiser when it comes to what will happen in regards to the UK renewables policy. The DECC made it clear that any of the details in the original proposal could change and none of it is yet certain. One has to wonder why this document was released with great expectations, when in fact it was simply designed to test the waters in the UK. None of the UK’s solar plans are yet tangible, so again, we’ll just have to wait and see. 

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