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Scottish government to 'grandfather' solar projects

The Scottish government has stepped in to guarantee financial support to certain solar projects whose future was uncertain.

Holyrood said it would use its devolved powers to offer a system known as grandfathering, which guarantees consistent support for the lifetime of a project, to all solar schemes in Scotland below 5MW confirmed over the next six months.

The move comes with the UK government considering pulling support earlier than April for projects in England and Wales.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) last month published a consultation on options for its feed in tariff scheme, which currently means householders, communities or businesses are paid a set tariff for each unit of power they generate from their solar panels or wind turbine. It said one option would be to close the scheme to new entrants from in the near future.

However, Scotland said that it would guarantee grandfathering to solar projects that are confirmed before the beginning of April, when the Renewables Obligation subsidy scheme will close.

Energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “The UK Government’s decision to slash support for renewables is misplaced and actively discourages investment in clean energy.

“The industry needs clarity and certainty to allow the necessary decisions to be taken and I will do what I can to support the 3,000 solar jobs in Scotland that are under threat.

“So to maintain a consistency and certainty for a growing industry, I have decided to use the powers I have to retain the status quo until the closure of the Renewables Obligation in April 2016.”

Solar Trade Association Scotland chairman John Forster added: “This shows that the Scottish Government is fully committed to solar providing as much as possible of its 100% renewables target for Scotland.

“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 the Minister 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.”

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