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DECC proposes changes in PV policy

Under new rule, businesses would be able to take their solar panels with them when they relocate.

In a consultation launched today, the UK government is seeking views on removing a barrier for building-mounted solar PV by allowing medium and large installations to be moved between buildings without loss of Feed-in-Tariff payments. According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the proposed policy change would allow businesses to continue to reap the benefits of lower bills under proposed changes planned by government.  

The change would apply to medium and large sized solar installations above 50kW.

“Around 900 businesses already use solar PV, but I want to see more generating their own electricity,” said Amber Rudd, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy. “There’s potential for significant growth in this area, so it’s vital that we remove the barriers which prevent businesses from benefiting. If there’s more rooftop solar, we’ll see job creation as well as helping us deliver the clean, reliable energy supplies that the country needs at the lowest possible cost to consumers.”

At the moment, if a FIT accredited installation is moved it becomes ineligible for further support.1 This can act as a significant deterrent to landlords and tenants who cannot guarantee to have the long-term ownership or lease of a building. Allowing the panels and the tariff to move with their owner will increase flexibility and make solar PV a much more attractive investment.

The Solar Trade Association — which claims to have identified this as one of the major barriers to more solar PV on big rooftops more than a year ago — applauds the move. “In order to secure financing and reduce investment risk, it is so important for businesses to be eligible to take their solar installations with them if they move,” said Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association. “It is great that DECC is now consulting on this key issue.”

With an estimated 250,000 hectares of south facing commercial rooftops – the equivalent of 350,000 football pitches – there is massive potential in the UK to turn buildings into power stations, helping to cut energy bills, reduce pressure on the grid and create jobs.

View the consultation documents and further details of the conditions of transferability online. Note: The consultation is open to all and closes on 5 January 2015.

  1. The definition of building-mounted solar under the Feed-in Tariff will be amended to require the building to use at least 10 per cent of the electricity generated. In addition, DECC is introducing a 12-month grid delay grace period for solar PV projects when the Renewable Obligation closes to 5MW-plus schemes. This will provide extra time for accreditation in cases where grid delays cause the project to miss the 31 March 2015 closure date.

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity