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Europe looks to force UK to push back December’s Feed-in Tariff cut

The European Commission is to study the UK’s planned December cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and the likely effects on the nation’s obligationsunder its Renewable Roadmap.

An application is to be made next week in Brussels on behalf of the ClickGreen SOS campaign to force the UK to detail the likely changes to the forecast delivery of solar PV should the early introduction of the lower FiT rate be allowed to happen.

Unless the UK can satisfy the European Commission that the thousands of cancellations of solar installations will not affect its 2015 and 2020 renewable targets, DECC will have to re-submit a revised Renewable Roadmap for fresh consultation and agreement.

And it has been threatened with a multi-million pound fine if it falls short of the pre-agreed targets of supplying 15 per cent of the nation’s energy consumption with 29GW of renewable power.

The solar PV contribution through the FiT accounted for a fraction of the forecast renewable energy mix – but was still a fundamental part of the plan signed off by Europe and published just four months ago.

Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, will table the motion in Brussels next week asking the European Commission to scrutinise how the proposed FiT cuts will effect the UK’s ability to deliver on its plan.

And she warned the European Commission would likely take a dim view of any change to the roadmap without consultation or agreement.

“If the UK fails to achieve its agreed targets by 2015, the European Commission will likely look to impose fines running into at least a few million pounds,” the MEP said.

“The UK cannot deviate away from the pre-agreed plan without consultation.

“Member States have all given the European Commission their renewables’ action plans and those plans were reviewed and agreed.

“The Feed-in Tariff was a programme to support the drive towards renewables but changing those proposals may mean the UK cannot now deliver on its plans.

“The question is if the UK will now meet the targets given this shift away from solar PV. It will be up to the UK government to demonstrate that it is not changing the agreed terms of its roadmap.”

The UK Renewables Roadmap released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in July this year, stated: “At present the Feed-in Tariffs scheme supports small-scale solar PV generation.

“The scheme is currently being reviewed; new rates for PV installations over 50 kW will take effect from 1 August 2011, and any further rate changes that arise from the review for installations at all scales will take effect from April 2012 (unless the review reveals the need for greater urgency).”

The European Commission will be asked to scrutinise whether “the need for greater urgency” exists and if so, does it warrant the early December 12 cut-off point for the current 43.3p/kWh FiT rate.

In September, the European Commission forced DECC to postpone plans for the launch of the Renewable Heat Incentive in a wrangle over large-scale biomass payments, the delay to the launch lasted two months.

It is understood, the UK has not consulted the European Commission over its planned, early cuts to the Feed-in Tariff and it has not yet explained the likely effects on its obligations and accountability with European renewable policy.

A spokesperson for DECC tonight told ClickGreen: “We are committed to meeting the 15 per cent 2020 renewables target. The UK like all Member States will provide a progress report to the Commission by the end of this year in line with our Obligations under the Renewable Energy Directive.

“Our Renewables Roadmap set out that solar would have a relatively limited role in cost-effective delivery of the overall target, compared to for example wind and bioenergy.”

If you want to add weight to the argument for pushing back the proposed December 12 cut-off date, please email ClickGreen’s Save Our Solar campaign at sos@clickgreen.org.uk, tweet a message to Twitter@greensourcenews or leave a note on the ClickGreen Facebook page.

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