Niche player confirmed as Feed-in Tariff leader

Independent energy company SmartestEnergy has paid out more to renewable generators under the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) than any other supplier during the first year of the scheme, according to newly released figures.

Ofgem statistics for the final quarter of the financial year take the total paid by SmartestEnergy during 2010/11 to £1.75m, over £200,000 more than it’s nearest competitor.

Despite the dominance of the ‘Big Six’ in the energy market, the figures show SmartestEnergy was responsible for almost 16 per cent of the £11.07m paid out by all licensed suppliers in the first 12 months since FiTs were introduced in April 2010.

Robert Groves, chief executive of SmartestEnergy which is the UK’s leading purchaser of electricity from independent generators including businesses, landowners and communities, said :

“As a champion for the independent generation sector, SmartestEnergy has very much embraced the potential of the FiTs scheme to help encourage a new generation of energy entrepreneurs.

“We have invested heavily to ensure we have the products and service to help smaller-scale generators maximise the opportunities. These first-year figures confirm our leading position in what is an increasingly important sector in the UK’s energy mix.

“They also demonstrate that despite the dominance of the major utilities in the energy market, smaller players can still play a very important role in providing a better value choice.”

SmartestEnergy’s focus on commercial-scale independent projects (typically more than 50kW capacity) has seen it develop a leading position in the market and with a healthy pipeline of new projects being planned or under development, that looks set to be maintained.

“We are continuing to see very strong interest in new projects which is encouraging given the increasing role smaller-scale generation will play in helping meet climate change targets and ensuring security of supply,” said Groves.

Groves said the healthy pipeline of projects also emphasised the importance of the right decisions being taken as the Government considers its final proposals under the Electricity Market Reform plans.

“Ensuring long term confidence is vital for attracting the investment needed in new generation to meet the Government’s ambitious renewable energy targets. We would urge ‘market-friendly’ solutions to be chosen wherever possible,” he stressed.

Recent FiT generation projects to come on stream with SmartestEnergy include Staples Vegetables’ anaerobic digestion plant at Boston, Lincolnshire and the Udny community wind turbine in Aberdeenshire.