GOVERNMENT ‘KILLING RENEWABLES’
Shock proposals to drastically cut back or even scrap the FITs PV scheme, which has produced a great deal of work for assessors, especially those in the domestic sector, were unveiled by DECC at the end of August. Here Chris Read, Chair of West Country assessors’ organisation DCHI, looks at the issues involved, and where he believes the energy industry is headed now.
Many, if not all of us, are saddened and angry at the Government’s proposal to slash the Feed-In-Tariff to the point where the small scale domestic market will be killed off, with the obvious knock-on effects for thousands of jobs across the UK. This is a double blow to an already vulnerable renewables sector, given the Government’s recent decision to stop subsidies for onshore wind whilst promising billions of pounds for nuclear power generation in the UK.
What makes it all the more depressing is that if you think about it, there is a perverse but powerful logic which is driving the Government’s agenda to kill off small scale generation in the UK and it’s all about chronic under-investment in the National Grid by successive governments. Back in the 1920s when it was no more than a twinkle in the eye of its founders, The National Grid was designed to do one thing – distribute power generated by massive power stations dotted around the UK.
It has done this remarkably well for over 75 years allowing new power stations to be added, old ones to be decommissioned and new fuels to be used without disrupting supplies to millions of homes and businesses. However, it was designed before small scale generation was ever thought of and its basic design premise – to push energy to consumers – has proved to be its Achilles Heel. It is simply not designed to take energy back from the consumer and it’s costing billions to make it do so,
billions which the UK Government doesn’t have or doesn’t want to spend.
Already in the South West we are grid constrained and homes are finding they are unable to connect whilst larger scale operations are being told they will have to pay millions in order to get connected, making many new projects unfeasible. So what can a Government do when faced with possible negative press around our country’s inability to harness small scale power generation, which will raise even more questions about successive administrations’ failure to invest in a 21st Century National
grid capable of supporting small scale generation? I’m afraid the answer is simple and we are witnessing it now, ie the killing-off of small scale renewables through removal of the subsidies which underpin them.