Image credit: Michael Betke, used under Creative Commons license.
With feed-in tariffs causing a huge surge in UK solar jobs, and even causing my parents to install solar, it seems fair to say the scheme has been a huge success. In fact, it may have been too successful. Because the massive rise in utility-scale solar farms is putting the entire program of feed-in tariffs under threat. Apparently they were never intended for large-scale energy production. Flemmich Welch reports over at The Guardian that the Government review of feed-in tariffs is being brought forward due to an unexpected surge in utility-scale solar. It seems, incredibly, that legislators never figured that subsidies would appeal to commercial entities just as much as it would homeowners:
"When it was set up on 1 April last year, the idea was that the FIT would encourage take-up of renewable energy systems and provide communities with self-generated green power and reduced energy bills. What no one seems to have predicted is the emergence of large-scale solar farms. Last month, Cornwall council granted planning permission for its fourth solar farm - the 5MW Lanhydrock photovoltaic (PV) solar farm. Other counties, including Dorset, Devon and Cambridgeshire, also have proposals on the table. According to Cornwall council, more than 60 domestic and foreign companies have expressed an interest in developing solar farms in the county."
While I understand that the original idea behind the FIT was to encourage distributed, residential generation of power. But it's hard to see that also promoting industrial-scale solar is a bad thing. I guess it just depends on whether one application exhausts the pot of money intended for the other. Either way, you'd have thought someone would have predicted it...
More on Solar and Feed-In Tariffs
Utility-Scale Solar Power in Rainy England?
Are Solar Feed-In Tariffs a Rip Off?
Feed-In Tariffs See Solar Companies Inundated
Massive Growth in UK Solar Jobs
80% of UK Farmers Want Solar Roofs by 2013