Updated 9 January 2019

Following yesterday’s announcement that the government will not pay households adding solar panels to their homes after April of next year for the excess power they export to the grid, Ashden, which promotes and champions initiatives that deliver sustainable energy, has responded with disappointment.

Giles Bristow, Director of Programmes at Ashden, said: “We are disheartened that the government is ignoring the advice of experts and ending the export tariff for small-scale renewables. That smaller solar and wind energy generators won’t be paid for the electricity that they contribute to the grid is a step backwards for the development of these technologies.

“The last ten years have seen a flourishing of domestic and local energy schemes across the UK. Ashden Award winners such as Low Carbon Hub and Repowering have installed solar on schools and social housing, keeping energy revenues in the local area.  Ashden agrees with the government that eventually solar needs to be able to stand on its own merits, but it needs to compete on a level playing field.  Currently the markets are not ready to buy energy from small scale generators.

“Unfortunately, this government announcement puts big fossil fuel power generators at an advantage (again!), jeopardising positive work in local and community energy, and flies in the face of the government’s commitment to clean power and tackling climate change.”

Dr Barbara Hammond MBE at Low Carbon Hub, which won an Ashden Award in 2016, added: “Our concern is that communities and householders need certainty at a time like this, and downgrading, rather than upgrading this important policy is confusing and extremely disappointing. Given the stark message from the recent IPCC climate change report we would expect to see the government doing a lot more to ensure the UK plays its part in meeting the serious climate challenges that we face. Time is running out.”

Chris Rowland, Director at OVESCO, an Ashden Award recipient in 2014 also commented: “This will effect our ability to make small-scale rooftop projects work and OVESCO’s hope to install more solar PV projects at schools and community buildings in 2019 has just been dealt a serious blow. The main social benefit of local energy initiatives like ours is the income that is generated by local people for the local community. This news is a huge blow and we see no reason why we should give our locally generated energy free of charge to the National Grid!”

UPDATE

On January 8 2019, the UK government announced new plans for households with solar panels to get a guaranteed payment for excess electricity exported to the grid. But there will be a gap between the ending of the current tariff scheme and the start of the new one, in which people who install solar will not be paid.

Cara Jenkinson, senior programme officer at Ashden and Director of en10ergy, a community energy group in North London, said: “While the Minister’s announcement that small scale solar generators will be paid for excess power is welcome, we are concerned that the new scheme requires legislation, there is no minimum export price and considerable implementation time is needed.

Local energy installers need certainty – why not continue current export tariff payments until the new scheme is up and running, and so protect local projects and jobs?”