UK Campaign Calls for Robust Support for PV Industry
Good green things have been happening in the UK recently, from the government announcing free eco-makeovers for 7 million UK homes through to the arrival of smart fridges. One of the most exciting pieces of news of recent months was the announcement that the UK government is set to introduce a feed-in tariff in 2010, obligating energy companies to buy green power from small scale producers at above market rates. Depending on how that rate is set, this could provide a real, lasting incentive to homeowners to invest in solar, wind and other microgeneration technologies. A new UK campaign is calling on your help to ensure it's set at a high enough level to kick-start this fledgling industry.We Support Solar, a campaign initiated by the UK PV manufacturers association, and supported by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, World Future Council, and the Green Alliance, claims that an ambitious, long term plan for feed in tariffs is vital if the UK renewable energy industry is not to get left behind:
Germany is often used to compare UK renewables performance. Under its 2004 feed in tariff legislation (the Renewable Energy Sources Act), Germany set itself a 2010 target of 12.5% renewable electricity generation. But Germany has already surpassed this target. In 2007, Germany generated 14.2% of its electricity from renewable sources, much of this rapid growth driven by feed-in tariff legislation. For example, Germany now has ten times more wind power than the UK. The UK’s current wind power is 2.4 GW. But Germany passed this level in 1998 and has been installing 2 GW of wind power per year every year since 2000.
Germany has 200 times the solar capacity of the UK. In 2006 alone, Germany installed 950 MWp, or the equivalent of 380,000 domestic solar installations in a single year. In total, Germany has installed over 4 GWp of solar capacity, or the equivalent of 1.6 million domestic solar installations. By contrast, the UK’s total installed solar capacity is less than 20 MWp or the equivalent of 8,000 domestic solar installations. Feed-in tariffs are driving forward the growth of renewable energy industries across Europe, if the UK is not careful it will be left behind completely!
The tariffs would be designed to scale back over time as the market matures (Germany's tariff's have been rolled back at 5% a year), but would also be active over a long enough time period that early adopters can feel confident in getting a return on their investment. For a complete brief on feed in tariffs, check out We Support Solar's FAQ page, and if you're already convinced this is a good thing, then you can sign the online petition in support of solar, or check to see if your Member of Parliament has signed up in support of We Support Solar.