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The future of small-scale renewable generation in Britain

Posted on 1 February 2019

The Feed in Tariff (FIT) is a government scheme which started in 2010 and was designed to encourage the uptake of small-scale renewable generation technology. The FIT has been a great success, resulting in over 6 GW of small-scale renewable energy being installed, including amazing community-owned co-operative sites like Westmill Solar.

In December 2018 the government confirmed that in April 2019 the Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme for new entrants would close. This includes the closure of the export tariff, which guarantees eligible homeowners, community groups and commercial sites a set price for the energy they export to the grid.

This closure isn’t fair and doesn’t help us support the urgent action we need to combat the effects of climate change. It also does not seem to make sense after it was recently announced that the UK is subsidising fossil fuels more than any other country in the EU.

Co-op Energy has nearly 5,000 FIT customers and we have always been a strong supporter of the scheme. Suppliers are required to pay FIT to customers once they have over 250,000 customers, but we signed up to be a voluntary FIT administrator, administering the scheme for nearly 8 years.

If you are currently with us (or another supplier) and you are using the FIT scheme then don’t worry; all sites accredited before the cut-off date will have their payments made for the agreed term. The end of the scheme only applies to sites that aren’t accredited by March 31st 2019.

We worked with some of our key partners to try and convince the government not to end the export tariff, as it’s currently the best way of giving fair market access to domestic homeowners and ensuring their exported energy does not go into the grid for free.

Recently, the government announced a potential alternative to the export tariff, called the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). This proposal, which is currently under government consultation, would introduce a mandatory supplier-led route to market for small-scale low-carbon generation, by ensuring that large suppliers (over 250,000 customers) offer an export tariff to customers for the energy they export to the grid. We welcome this announcement and will work with our key partners to respond to the consultation, as well as beginning work exploring how we can offer a competitive export tariff if the SEG starts.

There is no overlap between the FIT closure and any new SEG scheme so there will be a period of time when new generators will not have a route to market. Currently there aren’t any solutions with smart meters which will allow us to offer an export tariff to domestic customers (we are working on this), however we have always been Great Britain’s leading supporter of community owned low carbon generation and so we will continue to offer a route to market for community groups who install renewable generation and continue offer them fair market prices.

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