We are disappointed by the recent review of Feed-In Tariffs for non-PV (photovoltaic) technologies, released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The consultation document has created outrage within the small wind energy sector for suggesting that the Feed-In Tariff for non-PV technologies might be capped at 21p per kWh, representing a reduction of 25 per cent from the current rate.
The review comes in light of the vastly oversubscribed number of PV installations, which have reached in excess of 140,000 since the Feed-In Tariff scheme began in March 2010. However, over the same period of time only 1,300 small wind installations benefitted from this support. The original objective of the subsidy was to establish sustainable growth of all renewable technologies in the UK.
Patrick Dormon, Managing Director of SIAC Wind Energy, explained: “The PV industry has enjoyed unprecedented success and, while recent cuts have been drastic, they were necessary because of the reducing cost of technology. This is entirely as a result of economies of scale, where the UK solar industry has benefitted from massive demand from sunnier countries. Conversely, the cost of small wind installations has – at best – remained unchanged, quite simply because the cost of the wind turbine technology itself is a much smaller proportion of the overall project installation. The additional barriers to market, such as planning, have caused the industry to develop at a slower rate too.
“Products like our 10kW Bergey turbine have a massive role to play in our country’s drive towards a more environmentally friendly future. The majority of Bergey owners are small to medium farms with single phase electricity supplies. We are frustrated the DECC seems intent on penalising farmers looking at small wind turbines to power their energy needs, rather than just exporting to the grid.
“In 2004, California faced a similar over-subscription of solar installations. They lowered the solar and small wind subsidies together, even though this was only a very small portion of overall programme costs and small wind was not oversubscribed. The result was a significant decline in small wind sales over the following three years. Eventually the subsidy was increased back to its original rate. However, there had been so much damage to the small wind sales and installation infrastructure that sales pick-up was slow and it took several more years to get back to the level it was at in 2004. We think there is a lesson here for the DECC.
“With 40 per cent of all the available wind resource in Europe, the UK has incredible potential for producing wind power, far more than PV or any other renewable energy resource. We believe in looking at the bigger picture and feel Feed-In Tariff resources should be directed at the renewable energy technology with the greatest potential for growth. As a result, the Feed-In Tariff for small wind should not be decreased but actually increased, to help develop an industry with such a vital role to play in our country’s future.”