UK: FIT cuts clarity emerges

After months of uncertainty, it now appears that the UK solar industry can look to the future with a degree of certainty. The Department of Energy and Climate change has now set the March date by which reduced FITs will apply.

Plans to cut the FITs in December were successfully challenged at the High Court, whose decision was then appealed by the government. The outcome of that appeal is expected on February 9.

However the Government’s move to pre-empt this and bring some certainty to the market, which is in full flight attempting to complete installations, has been welcomed by supporters of renewables.

The Renewable Energy Association’s Gaynor Hartnell described the move as being the Government’s "Plan B". "Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, we now know that installations made after 3rd March will definitely qualify for the new tariff rates."

The new rates proposed for the government range from 21 pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh) for installations smaller than four kilowatts, down to 8.5 pence for "stand alone" installations. These rates are down from 43.3 p/kWh to 8.5 p/kWh.

Environmental NGO the Friends of the Earth, which was one of the parties that brought the initial case before the High Court, has also responded favorably to the move.

"At last the Government is taking steps to sort out some of the uncertainty that’s crippling a thriving UK industry – planned cuts will at last allow solar firms to start planning for the future," said Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins.