The proposed changes in the feed-in tariffs (FITs) will threaten the provision of free solar in the UK, leaving only those who can afford it to adopt renewable technology.
As part of the Government review, on 3rd March the rate paid out for homes that install solar panels was slashed to 21 pence per kilowatt of electricity generated. In addition there is a further proposed cut to 16.8 pence from 1st April for aggregated systems, which will threaten the availability of free systems that are provided at no cost to homeowners.
To benefit directly from the feed-in tariff scheme it requires the homeowner to make a large initial investment to buy and install a solar pv system. Due to the high initial costs a majority of homeowner are excluded from the scheme, because there is no finance available for domestic solar. However, the emergence of the very popular free solar industry in the UK has meant that many more people can take advantage of the FIT subsidies and many thousands of households are now able to generate their own free electricity. However, when the 16.8p rate kicks in for the free solar companies, the free solar industry will be put at risk.
Stewart Davies, Managing Director of A Shade Greener Ltd stated:
"We believe that a scheme that ultimately only benefits those that can afford it and are young enough to benefit from it is fundamentally unfair, but the Government doesn’t think this is an issue that needs addressing."
There are over 10 million pensioners in the UK, most of whom could not afford to invest in green technologies such as solar. Those who do have the funds to invest are also excluded as the long payback period, over 25 years, means that people aged 65 would need to reach the age of 90 in order to get the full benefit from their investment.
Without the availability of free solar panels
the FIT scheme would turn into an exclusive club, which only benefits those who can afford it and who are young enough to benefit fully from the scheme.
Stewart Davies added:
"We have installed nearly 7000 free systems throughout the UK, the majority of them on the roofs of pensioners' properties, and the feedback we have been getting indicates that there is overwhelming support for free solar."
"Many pensioners who have contacted us feel that they have been excluded from the FIT scheme, and yet it is this very sector of the community who would benefit most from having solar panels on their roofs. There are many pensioners struggling to make ends meet and these same pensioners are generally able to make best use of the free daytime electricity. A Shade Greener has consistently supported the Government’s decision to reduce the tariff in order for the FIT scheme to remain sustainable. However, we consider the proposed aggregation tariff being set at 16.8p to be unacceptable and inequitable, many free solar companies have already ceased trading. Nevertheless, we intend to keep offering free solar for as long as is possible, but it will be very tight. When we first started trading in October 2009, DECC were totally supportive of what we were proposing to do. Now it would seem that they have been listening to a very vocal minority of people who are opposed to the Free Solar Industry, and who are set on spoiling it for the majority."