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‘Good day’ for solar panel owners

Energy minister Claire Perry has confirmed in Parliament that, contrary to earlier suggestions, solar panel owners will not be forced to export their power for free from April 2019.

Energy minister Claire Perry has confirmed in Parliament that, contrary to earlier suggestions, solar panel owners will not be forced to export their power for free from April 2019.

A campaign backed by over 200 organisations had called on government to reverse its plans to scrap the ‘export tariff’ for solar generators, which provides payment for exporting power to the grid.

The export tariff ensures that small solar panel owners are paid a fair market rate for exporting their excess power to the grid. It works alongside a ‘generation tariff’ that pays a subsidy to owners for generating clean power. Both are part of the hugely popular Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme, which is currently due to expire in its entirety from April 2019.

New plans afoot

The Solar Trade Association (STA), which fronted the campaign, said that the move would leave households and small businesses as the only power generators who are not paid for providing power to the grid - effectively “subsiding the big players in the power industry”.

However, when questioned in the House of Commons on 20 November, energy minister Claire Perry confirmed that solar generators would still be paid for exporting their excess power in another form.

“The FIT scheme has been a huge success, supporting over 800,000 installations nationally”, she said. “It has cost consumers over £4.5 billion to date and is scheduled to cost more than £2 billion a year for at least the next decade. It is therefore right that we consider a new scheme. However, I do completely agree that solar power should not be provided to the grid for free, and that is why I will shortly be announcing the next steps for small-scale renewables.

‘Good day’

Despite losing subsidy payments from April 2019, the minister gave a positive outlook for the future of solar power, explaining that business premises were “now taking advantage of the benefits that solar can provider in balancing their own systems”.

“We will see more solar deployed next year than we have previously”, she added.

Commenting on the announcement, Chris Hewett, chief executive of the STA, said: “As ever the devil is in the detail, so we now need to see the proposals and make sure they are in place from April 2019, but this is a good day for solar installers and prospective rooftop solar owners.”