U.K. Moves Again to Curb Solar by Tightening Rules on Subsidies

The U.K. government took another step toward reducing the support it pays for solar energy by tightening rules on when developers can lock in electricity prices.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said that starting Oct. 1, companies can no longer “pre-accredit” for feed-in tariffs, the rates paid for power sold to the grid. Under the current system, developers can nail down a price during the planning stage for new projects. Now it will be determined when the plant begins working.

The Solar Trade Association said the move will damage the industry by leaving developers vulnerable to any reduction in the subsidy rate that happens during construction. With less certainty on rates, developers will be less able to finance new projects, the group said.

“This removal of pre-accreditation and the devastating cuts to tariffs are both going against the tide of public opinion where 80 percent of people support solar power, more than any other technology,”said Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association.

The U.K., which has become among the most lucrative solar markets in Europe, in part due to government support, wants to keep a boom in installations from driving up electricity bills. Payouts for renewable energy are due to exceed the Treasury’s budget even after subsidy cuts that were announced in July.

“Our objective is to maximize the value for money deployment,” the energy department said in a paper outlining the changes released in London on Wednesday.“Removing pre-accreditation will achieve this by limiting the value of the deployment surge in response to tariff reductions.”

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