UK solar industry hits back

The companies state that the fast track review, launched on February 7, came a year too early and goes against the government’s previous indications that no changes would be implemented before 2012. They also accuse the government of failing to announce the trigger for the early review.

The government’s primary reason for launching the review – namely that there is concern about excessive deployment of large-scale installations – is also said to be unfounded and lacking in evidence.

On behalf of the group filing the claim, Mark Shorrock, CEO of Low Carbon Solar UK, said that he hoped the action will result in Huhne abandoning the fast track review, and instead work with the industry to reach a "more appropriate" solution.

The organisations and individuals behind the legal challenge are: Alectron Investments Ltd; Element Power Ltd; Juwi Renewable Energies Ltd; Lark Energy Limited; Low Carbon Solar UK Ltd; MO3 Power Ltd; Donald Anderson; Guy Anderson; Kate Kenyon; and The Green Company (Europe) Ltd.

In detail

According to a statement released by Low Carbon Solar, the application to the Court for a judicial review of the decision to undertake the review includes the following arguments:

  • Previous indications by the Department of Energy and Climate Change set clear expectations that a first review of the FITs scheme would take place in 2012 with any resultant changes being implemented in April 2013. DECC indicated in November 2011 that an earlier review might take place, but this was to be carried out over a 12 month period with any changes to tariffs implemented from 2012 onwards.
  • No announcement on the trigger for an early review was ever made by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. In order to protect investor confidence the proper course for the Secretary of State was the one he originally stated would be followed, namely setting a clear, and reasoned, trigger for the conduct of an early review. There could then have been a proper assessment of whether the trigger set had been met by deployment.
  • The fast-track review is predicated on a concern about excessive deployment of so-called "large scale". The companies involved in the legal challenge are not aware of any current evidence of "excessive deployment" of this technology. The review is therefore based on a perceived risk of excessive deployment, and belated recognition that the original projections for likely numbers of developments may have been flawed.
  • Targeting ground mounted, grid connected solar PV projects at the larger end of the tariff bands, which are the most cost effective and efficient of the range of possible applications of the technology, is irrational in the context of promoting investment in renewable energy to meet the government’s renewable energy targets whilst balancing the cost to the consumer.