The two largest renewable energy trade associations have conflicting views on today's latest set of rule changes to the Feed-in Tariff.
The Renewable Energy Association said the Department of Energy and Climate Change had listened to the views of business but RenewableUK said the plans had “slammed the brakes” on the small wind sector.
RenewableUK expressed “serious concern” at the Government's cuts in support for small wind power – a sector which employs over 800 people in the UK.
The Government has reduced the feed-in tariff level for small wind systems, those with a production capacity of up to 100 kilowatts, by 20%.
The association pointed out that independent research from Element Energy indicates that this cut will call a halt to the growth of this technology, limiting new deployment to less than 8MW a year – equivalent to only four large-scale turbines.
RenewableUK’s Small & Medium Wind Development Manager, Indre Vaizgelaite, said: “We are deeply disappointed that the Government has chosen to put the brakes on a sector which had the potential to employ up to 9,000 people by 2020. Small wind has been a UK success story – many of the world’s major manufacturers are based here, and there is a thriving export market.
“The industry was committed to bringing costs down, but had made the case that this should be done over a two year period, to allow production to ramp up and deliver economies of scale. Instead these cuts have been introduced with just a few months’ notice after a long period of uncertainty for our UK manufacturers.
“There is now a real risk that these jobs will go overseas – an unnecessary risk. Small wind was in no danger of overshooting the deployment trajectory the Department for Energy and Climate Change had set for it, with 95% of FIT payments going to other technologies, making this decision even more puzzling.”
However, in today's DECC statement, Paul Thompson, Head of Policy at the Renewable Energy Association, provided the comment: “These decisions demonstrate that DECC has listened carefully to industry concerns, and should restore certainty to the sub-5MW sector. We particularly welcome the support for community schemes and the improvements to the cost control mechanism.
“The introduction of tariff guarantees for projects at a relatively early stage is also very helpful, and we look forward to a similar approach being extended to the Renewable Heat Incentive.”