Government Set to Undermine the Future of Domestic Solar Power

Newform Energy has received notification from a representative of the solar energy industry regarding significant concerns, shared by a number of trade bodies, about draft legislation, that has been presented to Parliament, on the forthcoming Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme.

The Government is committed to a declared policy of increasing the amount of energy the UK obtains from low carbon technologies such as renewables, by which it can ensure we might future-proof a secure supply of energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and thereby lessen the pace of climate change, and stimulate investment in new jobs and businesses.

Exemplified by its recent allocation to Newform Energy of a TIGER Fund grant worth in excess of £400,000 to support the growth of the company, DECC has endorsed its policy of supporting solar technology as a means to achieve its energy objectives. However, with the introduction of the domestic RHI Regulations in their current format, the Government plans to implement measures which appear to contradict this policy.

The Government is legally committed to meeting 15% of the UK‘s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020 and, to help increase and accelerate the use of renewable energy, has introduced a number of financial incentives. In particular, these include FiTs, which pay energy users who invest in small scale, low carbon electricity generation systems for the electricity they generate and use, and for any unused electricity sent back to the Grid, and RHIs, which currently pay commercial, industrial, public, not-for-profit and community generators of renewable heat for a 20 year period. In Spring 2014, the RHI scheme will be extended to include domestic generators.

For many householders, the ability to benefit from both FiTs and RHIs through the use of just one, “PV-T” panel, as opposed to separate electric and thermal power generating panels, has been key to their adoption of solar power solutions. Such a combination delivers both a saving on purchase and installations costs and also limits the amount of roof space required on which to site the panels. For home owners, landlords and housing associations who have already embraced the Government’s renewable energy policies by installing PV-T panels, the planned changes to the legislation will result in a loss of around £2,300 in income and will significantly extend the rate of return on their investment by around 4 years.

Anthony Morgan, CEO of Newform Energy, is extremely concerned at the impact this draft legislation will have if passed: “I am absolutely certain that this will undermine the credibility of the industry as a whole in the eyes of the consumer and will be counter-productive to the Government’s intention for large scale adoption of solar energy across the UK. On a personal level, our company ethics provide the foundation of our approach to business and this new legislation will effectively mean that we have mis-represented the benefits of our products to hundreds of our customers.”

Following the success of its integration at the UK’s first carbon neutral “Solar House” in Leicestershire, Newform Energy’s PV-T technology is presently being installed in much smaller domestic properties that will help to deliver carbon neutrality in a universally accessible format. Anthony continues: “We are one of a number of UK green technology SMEs who are leading the world in the development of PV-T technology and who are actively supported by the Government with large amounts of investment in the form of ‘DECC Innovation’ and ‘Regional Growth’ Funds. The Government’s planned legislation contradicts its policy to promote home grown innovation and carbon mitigation technologies and I would urge all other industry stakeholders to express their concerns at the earliest available opportunity.”


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