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Solar farm firms plead for subsidy

Energy companies developing solar “farms” have hit out at a review aimed at removing green subsidies from the commercial ventures, warning they represent better value for money than household solar panels.

The Government last week announced that it was reviewing the feed-in tariffs scheme amid concerns large scale solar electricity schemes were cashing in on the incentives designed to boost small-scale renewables.

The tariffs, which are financed by small increases on household energy bills, pay people and organisations for the “green” electricity they generate from small-scale solar panels, wind turbines and other renewables.

But with subsidies paying out for solar electricity installations of up to 5MW, the equivalent of 200 homes having the panels on their roofs, solar farms which stretch over a number of acres are being given the go-ahead.

The announcement of the review has thrown the solar industry into uncertainty.

And it has provoked criticism from businesses investing in solar farms, who claim that, as a result of economies of scale and the lower payments provided for large-scale operations, their installations are a more efficient use of the money being channelled into generating green electricity.

Solar developers mO3 Power chief executive Ken Moss said: “It costs consumers £24M to put 5MW into the grid from rooftop arrays - it only costs us £12.3M from a single farm.

“It is subsidising large-scale solar photovoltaics developments which is the most efficient use of taxpayers’ money.

“Commercial developments have the capacity to drive down the technology costs, produce more power, and cost less. Plus they receive less in subsidies than domestic arrays, giving the Government and the taxpayers more bang for their buck.”

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