Chris Huhne announced the review of Feed in Tariffs for Solar PV in a Ministerial statement on Monday. It was to be expected – as I posted previously, the Department is worried that the emergence of large ‘field solar’ arrays of several megawatts installed capacity (several have received planning permission – but have not yet been built – in Cornwall) would gobble up the projected ‘allowance’ for solar PV, and either overshoot the cap or monopolise what funding there is at the expense of smaller installations.
The statement records the 21,000 installations since the scheme was launched last year, and says ‘the scheme is working well’. FITs at present levels are guaranteed until April 2012: no real surprises there. There will be , says Chris, ‘fast track consideration of large-scale solar projects….with a view to making any resulting changes to tariffs as soon as practical’ i.e the end of field solar next week, sort of. Not really any surprises there, either.
…what is a surprise is what DECC thinks a ‘large-scale solar project’ is. They define it as ‘over 50 kw’, thereby placing pretty much all school and community centre installations outside future FITS funding. 50kw is frankly, not very big: my roof comes in at 3KW installed power and consists of 36 small roof tiles: a 50kw system would about cover both sides of my roof – by no means a field giant.
This must be a mistake….surely! But then I become a bit worried on looking at a Document DECC produced to scope out the predicted uptake of PV when FIT was introduced: in this they predict that there will be NO arrays of more than 4kw installed until 2014; and in passing define ‘domestic’ as up to 4kw; ‘small’ as 4-10kw and ‘large’ as anything over 10kw. They simply seem to have calibrated array sizes wrongly, and that is perhaps where the suggestion that a 50kw installation is ‘large’ comes from.
I guess if this document and its predictions informed the ministerial statement, then it is not surprising that school, community, church and small public building arrays are all about to get the chop.
I’m going to be raising this in the House as soon as possible: I understand the need for a review, and for a limit to be set; but not that one. 500kw, or 1mw perhaps: but 50kw will be quite catastrophic for all sorts of blameless and worthwhile local projects which we should embrace as exemplars of what good distributed generation should be about. It needs to be sorted out.