Adjusting to the new reality

Cuts to subsidies have made some question the business case for onsite renewables. But are they speaking too soon? Alex Marshall reports

At the start of the year, the final nail seemed to have been hammered into the coffin of onsite renewables when the government slashed feed-in tariffs (FITs) yet again. The subsidy available for solar PV projects – the overwhelming renewable of choice for businesses and public sector bodies hoping to generate their own power – dropped some 60%, to just a few pence per kW/hr.

At the same time, the energy and climate change department (Decc) introduced a system of quarterly caps to limit the cost of the scheme. This would limit the number of PV installations 10–50 kW in size to 500 a quarter. If a business put PV on its roof, but missed the cap, it would be put in the queue for the next quarter. There was no guarantee subsidies would not change – or be stopped, altogether – in the meantime.

Own two feet

The message from government seemed clear: it is time for solar to stand on its own. The changes appeared to have had an immediate impact. ‘We have observed a distinct drop in demand for our solar modelling services,’ Chris Jennings, strategic development manager at Sustain, told the environmentalist in January after one of the energy consultancy’s largest ...

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