UK: Why the Feed-in Tariff is under threat from big business

>> Feb 03, 2011

Since April last year, the British Government has been encouraging people to invest in independent energy production by providing attractive financial incentives through the Feed-in Tariffs scheme.

This financial return on investment was designed to encourage homeowners, small businesses and other landowners make the most out of their efforts to be greener through rewarding them financially for the generation of renewable energy. Yet the £400 million per annum ring-fenced for Feed-in Tariffs is under threat.

Big businesses and financial vehicles are investing in industrial scale solar farms that could potentially consume most of the available Feed-in Tariffs. The UK coalition Government’s Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, has pledged to help protect the nation’s independent renewable energy incentive but are pledges enough?

Decisive actionWhile there has been a lot of good noise coming out of the Government in response to its energy plans, we would rather some decisive action is taken to guarantee the Feed-in Tariff is available for those consumers it was intended for. Mr Barker stated that he would act on large-scale solar projects if they were found to be taking a substantial proportion from the Feed-in Tariff scheme pot.

However, five megawatt solar farms are already in place (with many more in planning) and rapidly eating into the available pot of cash. The Feed-in Tariff scheme was conceived with the view of helping homeowners and SMEs implement renewable energy generation which, in turn, would help the UK as a whole in achieving its renewable energy target by 2020. Without the incentive, the UK will be faced with a steeper renewable energy hill to climb.

People up and down Britain are excited about the benefits of renewable energy, combining attractive financial returns of five to eight per cent with the possibility of energy security over many years. If the Government’s energy initiatives are to continue then we need to stop industrial scale solar farms abusing the scheme and ensure the British public are being allowed to benefit properly from the existing incentives.



Planning applications for industrial solar farms need to come to a halt; these are the types of decisions that will actually put into action the promises from ministers such as Greg Barker.

The UK is in a position to generate a significant amount of green energy, locally and privately. However, if the incentives that are currently in place are consumed by a small number of large businesses, we may find the enthusiasm for renewable energy drops sharply. The Government needs to act and act now.


Kevin Parslow, ceo of Evance Wind

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