The renewables industry and green groups have accused ministers of striking a major blow against household solar power after the government said a green energy subsidy scheme would end next year without a replacement.
The closure of the feed-in tariff (FIT) to new applicants from next April marks the final chapter for the scheme, which has encouraged more than 800,000 households to install solar panels since it was launched in 2010.
Solar installations had already largely dried up after the incentives were cut drastically in 2016, but renewables advocates had hoped a replacement would take its place. On Thursday, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy made clear there would be no extension or new alternative.
“Today’s confirmation that there will be no replacement for the feed-in tariff is a major blow to small-scale renewables in the UK,” said Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at RenewableUK.
The group also attacked the government for indecision, pointing out it had known for three years that the subsidies were coming to an end.
Climate change charity 10:10 said the government had called “lights out” for small-scale renewables. Max Wakefield, a campaigner at the group, said the decision “ignores the role that people and communities want to play in energy transition”.
Controversially, anyone installing solar after April will no longer even be paid for exporting their excess solar electricity to local power grids.
The only financial benefit to people fitting solar at home will be if they consume the electricity themselves and reduce their energy bills. A typical solar installation costs around £6,000, less than half what it did when the FIT started.
The government said the scheme had “triggered a small-scale electricity revolution” but the costs of the subsidies, which are levied across all energy bills, needed to be reined in.
“As costs continue to fall and deployment without direct subsidy becomes increasingly possible for parts of the sector, it is right that government acts to ensure continued value for money for billpayers over the longer term,” officials said.
Labour had promised to keep the scheme alive if it came to power, by using a “modest” portion of a £557m clean energy subsidy pot earmarked largely for offshore windfarms.
The government’s announcement came on the same day that it launched a consultation to allow exploratory shale well gas wells to be built without planning permission.
The recent weeks of sunny weather have helped solar power to smash a series of records in the UK, and solar panels have regularly been providing more than a fifth of the country’s electricity generation for several hours a day.

BD Post Desk