At least 77 wind and solar projects, representing 21MW and 32MW of capacity respectively, will be unable to secure subsidies under the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme before its imminent closure at the end of March, research by Regen has revealed.
The analysis is based on the latest figures from Ofgem that show several of the deployment caps for the final quarter of the scheme have already been reached.
The caps in question cover standalone solar projects, behind-the-meter solar projects of more than 50kW and wind projects of more than 100kW. Regen said subsidies were still available for 522MW of smaller wind and solar as well as 69.4MW of hydro, anaerobic digestion and micro combined heat and power as of 19 March.
Writing in a blog on its website, Regen policy and advocacy manager Madeleine Greenhalgh said: “Given that this is the last possible opportunity to receive the FIT, there is talk in the industry of pushing BEIS [the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy] and Ofgem to reallocate spare capacity to those who have missed out. This seems unlikely given the government’s desire to reduce FIT costs as much as possible.
“This last minute dash just shows how much the closure of the FIT has rocked the industry. The delay from government officially announcing the closure and still not having a full plan in place for its replacement has left many unprepared. Poor communication from Ofgem on the caps has meant that some technologies have had a last minute scramble, while others are left languishing.
“We await news of the smart export guarantee with bated breath and those with projects that didn’t make the cap will now be impatient for its arrival.”
Percentage of deployment caps allocated
Source: Ofgem. Figures for first quarter of 2019 as of 19 March.
Of the 77 projects that will miss out on subsidies, at least 30 are community energy schemes, according to Community Energy England. With a combined capacity of almost 12MW, they would add nearly 7 per cent to the total capacity of the sector.
Emma Bridge, chief executive of Community Energy England, said: “As the feed-in tariff closes, community energy, and small-scale renewable energy schemes are left in limbo, forced to return surplus energy supplies to the grid without any compensation, whilst the government determines its next policy.”
She continued: “If this government is serious about tackling climate change and supporting its citizens to play their part in reducing carbon emissions, then we need to see a firm commitment from them about what alternative support they will offer to the community energy sector in the wake of the feed-in tariff closure.
“There is a growing number of people supporting community energy schemes – these are precisely the community champions the government needs to help spread the message about the benefits of everything from renewable energy, smart meters, better insulated homes and shifting to electric-powered vehicles.
“Let’s face it, big energy companies and politicians aren’t always the people to influence a renewable energy sceptic, but a trusted neighbour, local headteacher or community pub landlord might well be better placed to explain how renewable energy can really make a difference.”
Under the FIT scheme, accredited installations are paid for both the power they produce (the generation tariff) and the power they supply to the grid (the export tariff). The government announced plans in January to replace the latter with a “smart export guarantee” requiring suppliers to remunerate small-scale renewable generators for exports.