UK solar market leader Lightsource ‘surprised and disappointed’ by FiT cuts

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The CEO of the UK’s largest owner and operator of solar PV, Lightsource Renewable Energy, has expressed concern over government proposals to drastically reduce the support available under the feed-in tariff.

Speaking to PV Tech’s sister website, Solar Power Portal, Nick Boyle said that “like everyone else, we were hugely surprised and disappointed by the recent announcements”.

Last month the UK government announced proposals to cut the solar FiT by as much as 87%, drawing widespread criticism from the domestic industry.

Lightsource Renewable Energy launched a dedicated commercial rooftop division in February 2014 in order to meet expected increased demand after the UK's minister for energy and climate change pledged that mobilising the commercial market was his number one priority for 2014.

The company is offering free commercial rooftop installs for businesses in return for purchasing electricity generated by the array for as little as 5p/kWh. However, the proposal to cut the feed-in tariff rate could threaten the company's financial model. Lightsource has previously ring-fenced £125 million for its commercial rooftop division.

Asked if the developments have cast doubt over the company’s commercial rooftop division and its PPA model, Boyle said: “The devil is in the detail, and we are still assessing the impact these proposed changes will have on all our propositions, including our midscale PPA. It is still very early days and we do not have any definitive answers as yet.”

Boyle now believes that a well articulated and orchestrated lobbying effort will be necessary in order to influence the government away from the damaging set of proposals. Boyle said: “What remains pivotal is getting the message across to government that solar offers far more than simply putting panels on a roof and getting a tariff.”

“It's about the whole energy piece. It's about decentralised generation, about the smart home and the empowerment of homeowners, businesses and local communities to take control of their own electricity generation thus creating a cleaner and more energy efficient future,” continued Boyle.

Boyle concluded: “Solar is the only renewable technology that allows anyone and everyone to make a difference, and it will be the technology that delivers sustainable energy security in the United Kingdom within a decade. We need to reiterate this one key fact, which no one can deny.”

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