Scottish solar energy firms have warned ministers that axing a key renewable subsidies scheme could destroy their industry.
Solar Trade Association Scotland chairman John Forster said proposed changes to the feed in tariff scheme could be catastrophic.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) last week published a consultation on options for feed in tariffs, saying one option would be to close the initiative to new entrants from January.
“The proposed feed in tariff reduction is unnecessary, unjustifiable, unmanageable and ultimately destructive for Scotland’s emerging solar industry,” said Forster.
“We are in touching distance of solar becoming subsidy-free over the next five years. Just as the industry requires stability to reach its goal, the Decc changes are causing unnecessary disruption and uncertainty to this being achieved.
“The plans seem short sighted when increasing UK deployment will reduce carbon emissions, improve the UK’s energy security, reduce our trade deficit, provide significant new employment and contain the rising costs of energy.”
The consultation said feed-in-tariffs had been a victim of their own success.
“We expect to breach the limits of the Levy Control Framework, the amount of money agreed within government which can be added to consumer bills to pay for low-carbon electricity generation, and deploy more small-scale renewables than we envisioned when the scheme started,” it said.
Proposed changes in the consultation include:
- Amending the amounts paid out by the scheme for different sizes of solar, wind and hydro projects from January 2016
- A move to link payouts to the consumer prices index rather than the retail prices index for new installations
- Ending the possibility of extending the feed in tariff scheme to other technologies
- Limiting the budget for new expenditure under the initiative to as little as £75M from January 2016 to the end of 2018/19
- Preventing extensions to existing renewables projects from claiming feed in tariffs
- Ruling out any extension of the initiative to cover Northern Ireland
“If cost control measures are not implemented or effective in ensuring that expenditure under the scheme is affordable and sustainable, government proposes that the only alternative would be to end generation tariffs for new applicants as soon as legislatively possible, which we expect to be January 2016, while keeping the export tariff as a route to market for the renewable electricity they generate,” says the Decc consultation document.
The deadline for consultation responses is 23 October.