New feed-in tariffs (FiTs) will boost the United Kingdom’s solar industry following a government turnaround on the controversial subsidies.
The Conservative UK government scrapped the nation’s previous FiT scheme in April this year, leading to a rapid downturn in new solar installations.
As a result new installations fell by 94 per cent within a month. Fresh new feed-in tariff rules mean that homeowners installing solar panels from the first of January, 2020 can sell excess electricity production back to the grid.
New feed-in tariffs to boost UK solar – but only from 2020
Around 800,000 UK householders are already receiving solar FiTs under a previous government scheme.
This means they can sell solar electricity they don’t use during the day. This therefore makes their solar power system more cost-effective.
However, there is no incentive for householders to buy solar panels for the rest of the year because the new scheme only kicks off in 2020.
Octopus Energy founder Greg Jackson says FiTs allow households to be rewarded for generating power – just like traditional coal-fired generators.
Jackson calls the smart export tariffs “game-changing”. He says: “This will help bring down prices for everyone as we use cheaper power generated locally by our neighbours.”
Solar batteries in the UK renewable mix
The capacity of renewable energy overtook that of fossil fuels like coal for the first time in late 2018 according to Imperial College London data.
Renewable capacity tripled between 2013 and 2018 while fossil fuel capacity fell by a third. Solar energy supplied about a quarter of UK electricity on 26 May 2017, a record amount.
Now the UK government hopes the new FiT scheme will encourage householders to install solar batteries.
Forty households in the London Borough of Barnet are already pooling their solar batteries in the UK capital’s first virtual power plant (VPP).
UK Power Networks will draw on this pool when needed. The network distributor will also pay residents to draw on stored energy during peak demand.
Australian subsidies boost solar energy
Australia has well-established FiTs varying from state to state. Electricity retailers offer different deals depending on where you live.
Examine up-front rates carefully, because generous FiTs may come with higher daily supply charge or specific conditions.