Monday, 31 October 2011

Feed-in tariff cuts on solar PV installations

Solar panels used to be about heating your own water and producing green electricity. You were doing your bit to save the planet and there was something really admirable about it.

Now it seems that pocketing cash for feeding your unwanted electricity back into the national grid has taken over as the number one driver for the uptake of renewable technologies. Googling the subject this afternoon has left me feeling flat as the traditional images of green fields, fresh water and smiling children have been replaced by a bamboozling mixture of ROI calculators, confusing tariff payments and unethical rent-a-roof operations.

Don’t get me wrong, more money each month is nothing to turn your nose up at but what
happened to saving the planet? As a trade PR and self-confessed nerd, a large proportion of my working day is spent reading and writing about the benefits of renewable technology and sustainable materials. Yes, most of my work will mention the reduction in fuel bills because it has and always will be a massive plus point in the mission to go green, but maybe we’ve gone too far?

This week the Government has brought forward its plans to slash its feed-in tariff on domestic solar PV installations by 50%, from 43p/kWh to a less appealing 21p/kWh. Why? Because, in the words of Energy Minister Greg Baker: “We’re burning through the budget.” Put simply, the cost of solar PV has plummeted by 70% in the last two years making the return on investment far greater than the Government had ever intended. To make things worse, cheaper panels have generated greater enthusiasm, leading to more hands dipping into the Government’s dwindling pot of money.

A small part of me is smirking because for a short time at least we are getting one up on our leaders but the majority of me wants to ask, wasn’t it about the environment anyway?

1 comment:

  1. They are a great big bloody eye sore, good for the environment or not. Utter nonsense.