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Equal feed-in tariff for existing generation has heavyweight support

Support for equal feed-in rates for those who already have small solar PV, wind turbines or hydro came from diverse parts of the renewable energy sector at yesterday’s RegenSW conference in Bristol.

Sponsor Christine Griffiths of Aeolus Power got her passionate call in early in the day – to be met by a dismissive retort from Stephen de Souza, head of renewables financial incentives at DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change). “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” he said. “The benefits have to be paid for, and this is about incentivising new generation.”

While Rufus Ford of Scottish and Southern Energy highlighted a number of operational issues that concern his company about DECC’s proposals. One of these was that existing generators, including those who weren’t registered for the renewables obligation, should be paid the same as new generators. He pointed out that if they aren’t there is a risk that it will lead to mistrust of future schemes, and that there is a precedent of additional benefits going to existing generators in the move to double ROCs.

Phillip Wolfe of Ownergy, and until recently former director of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), identified some of the barriers there may be to take up of the feed-in tariffs.

He pointed out that funding is key, suggesting that it will be necessary to take a funding package to consumers (something his company addresses). He added that most people think 10 years is too long for payback, and worry about the disruption caused. Finally, he said that the treatment of existing systems is a big issue.

So what are the keys for success? According to Phillip Wolfe they are:

  • Returns increase to at least 10%, and
  • Existing systems are eligible

This he argued will lead to “a few thousand influential ambassadors”, excluding them is “penny pinching for its own sake”.

DECC officials didn’t appear moved on this issue, but keenly encouraged people to respond to the consultation document by the closing date of 15 October 2009. Details of how to respond, if you haven’t yet, are on our campaign page.

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