Details of the cuts affecting feed-in tariffs (FITs) have been published online by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) – only to be removed almost immediately.
The leaked information has come as a shock to homeowners and solar PV installation firms. According to the EST, the UK Government will slash the rate of the feed-in tariff from 43.3p per kilowatt hour to just 21p – a drop of more than 50 per cent and one that is rumoured to fall further to 20p per kilowatt hour.
The rate paid under FITs for solar electricity is obviously very important to homeowners. If a typical solar panel installation costs £10,000, homeowners can expect to recover this amount in approximately 10 years if savings work out at a steady £1,000 per annum. The rate paid to homeowners under FITs is secure for 25 years, so households would expect to make a handsome profit in the following 15 years – up to £15,000 in fact.
If the cuts published by the EST are accurate, homeowners would not be able to repay a typical solar installation (from solar savings alone) until the 18th year, leaving just 7 years for a return to be made. A return that would be less than £4,000. Few homeowners are likely to consider a £4,000 return over 25 years worthwhile.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) stressed the EST’s publishing of the report was a mistake that ought to be ignored. The spokesperson said: “We’ll be publishing a full consultation on changes to the solar PV tariff changes in parliament on Monday. The Energy Saving Trust inadvertently published a draft of documentation on its website that was neither final nor accurate”.
Chair of the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network, Professor Stephen Frankel, was upset by the news, claiming that the reduction would harm local initiatives. Professor Frankel said: “This fund is available for local projects, as decided democratically by local people. We are now told that the FIT is to be curtailed drastically. If that is true, our efforts to act upon government advice and encouragement will have been for naught”.
Homeowners have until the 8th December 2011 to have new solar panels installed that qualify for the current rate of FITs.