Ten member organisations have joined forces to call for the UK Government to urgently set out the future of the Feed-in Tariff.
Concerns about the future of the scheme, which supports household, farm and small business-scale renewable energy installations, have caused investment in the sector to slump.
The group has written a joint letter to Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
In it they say: “We would stress that without a viable route to a market, the benefits that small-scale low-carbon energy projects can deliver to the UK risk being lost.”
The Feed-in Tariff is currently set to close in 2019.
A consultation on what will happen after that date is now a year overdue.
The letter continues: “To date, the Feed-in Tariff has supported much of the UK’s small-scale low-carbon generation. It is this portfolio of energy assets that is not just helping to meet the UK’s energy needs and carbon targets, but is contributing to Government’s policy ambition through creating a more dynamic, smart and flexible low-carbon energy system.
“The benefits of decentralised generation are not limited to energy production. Small-scale local energy projects create significant socio-economic benefit across the whole of the country, engage communities and are often at the forefront of innovative energy and business models.
“Crucially, local low-carbon energy resources have been fundamental in giving small businesses greater control over their energy costs and use – and have helped create additional income in some instances.”
Pointing out that the future for firms relying on the Feed-in Tariff remains uncertain, the letter continues: “Investor confidence in the sector is waning, with developers increasingly looking to invest elsewhere. UK communities and business, as well as industry, risk missing the opportunities that come with developing a vibrant small-scale energy sector.
“We would therefore strongly encourage Government to consult on both outstanding operational issues and the overall future of the Feed-in Tariff with urgency.”
Following the letter’s submission, this issue was raised by SNP MP Stuart McDonald in the House of Commons. Subsequently, Claire Perry, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, has agreed to meet to discuss the group’s concerns.
The full list of organisations which co-signed the letter, sent last Monday (Jan 29) is:
- Community Energy Scotland
- Country Land & Business Association
- National Farmers Union, Scotland
- Scottish Land and Estates
- Scottish Renewables
- Solar Trade Association
- The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association
Hannah Smith, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This letter should serve as a stark warning that the deadlock over the Feed-in Tariff's future must be resolved as soon as possible. Our industry can then go on doing what it does best: creating jobs and cutting harmful emissions from our energy sector.
“We hope that meeting the Minister to discuss the delay and its impacts is the first step in resolving this issue and providing some certainty for businesses across the UK.”
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “There are wide-ranging benefits to small-scale renewable energy generation that work for businesses across the country which will be stifled by closing the Feed-in Tariff.
“Clean growth is a crucial ambition of the Government and we would like to see businesses of all types continue to engage with and contribute to these objectives. At a time when the development of the smart grid and battery storage opens up myriad possibilities for localised power provision it is essential to consult on the future of the scheme and the role of the sector going forward.”
NFUS President Andrew McCornick said: "A large number of farmers have invested in renewable energy. FiTs were a vital component for them in making this decision, and clarity over the future of this support mechanism is required urgently to provide certainty for the future."
RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Delays might be all very well in Whitehall – but they can translate into job losses for small businesses across the UK. We need clarity as soon as possible for the sake of these firms and community energy projects nationwide”.
Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “The solar industry responded to government support through Feed-in-Tariffs by installing solar PV on nearly a million buildings in the last decade.
"We are ready to move into the next phase as subsidies reduce, but cannot develop viable business models until we know the rules under which we will be operating beyond Spring 2019.”
Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), said: “The UK’s anaerobic digestion industry has already delivered so much, powering over a million homes and reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 1%, particularly in challenging areas such as agriculture. With the right support, however, it could meet 30% of current household electricity demand, quadruple its contribution to reducing UK GHG emissions, and provide 30,000 rural jobs.
“While AD is an established technology, the absence of a FIT post March 2019 is a serious threat to the viability of the UK AD industry and its ability to contribute to meeting a wide range of policy goals.
“We urge BEIS to set out a sustainable future for small-scale, low-carbon energy projects such as AD beyond 2019 to give reassurance to what is such a crucial industry for meeting climate goals in the UK.”