International forum: Politics - Scotland softens UK government’s solar cuts as criticism mounts
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24 Sep 2015 05:57

Scotland’s government has decided to go against the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) Renewables Obligation proposals and retain the so-called grandfathering guarantee.

When DECC revealed that it intended to close RO support for sub-5MW solar installations a year earlier than originally planned, it also included the removal of grandfathering rights, which prevented new applications from being eligible to receive RO certificates while the consultation was being discussed.

This effectively closed the RO on 22 July – the date the consultation was made public – however the Scottish government has decided against doing the same, and will also not review the level of support offered to RO projects under a banding review.

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing has been a vocal critic of the Conservative government’s energy policy to date and announced the decision in a letter dated yesterday, in which he referenced his concern about the impact the proposals would have on the renewables sector.

“As is the case for the wider renewables industry, developers of solar projects need clarity and certainty on the policy environment in order to attract funding and reach financial close,” Ewing said.

John Forster, chairman of Solar Trade Association Scotland, said that the decision was proof that Scotland is “fully committed to solar providing as much as possible of its 100% renewables target”.

“Solar projects in Scotland now know what level of support they are going to get, and that they will get it for the full 20 years. It won’t be possible to cut support for Scottish projects down the line in, for example, year 15 of 20.

“We particularly appreciate how Minister Ewing has moved as quickly as possible in making this decision, allowing solar businesses to plan ahead and focus their efforts on any Scottish projects in the pipeline,” Forster said.

The government’s proposed changes to solar support have drawn criticism from the country’s leading business lobby the CBI, as well the government’s own independent climate advisors the Committee on Climate Change. On Tuesday morning a campaign group 10:10 used a pressure washer to etch a pro-solar panels across the steps of DECC. The department managed to remove them by lunchtime.

24 Sep 2015 13:11
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