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Energy policy

Solar FIT news in Europe

In France, new feed-in tariffs have been announced for PV retroactively as of January 1. Meanwhile, the British government has come up with a Plan B in case it loses the legal challenge to its radical cuts in rates for PV, and Germany also held a meeting on solar FITs – with no immediate result.

 - The French government continues to publish its feed-in tariffs retroactively.
The French government continues to publish its feed-in tariffs retroactively.

Last week, France's Commission for Energy Regulation (CRE) published new rates for PV, which – once again – take effect retroactively as of January 1. The rates are reduced each quarter and broken up into five categories: residential, healthcare and educational buildings, other buildings, “simple building integration” (meaning principally that the PV array does not simultaneously act as the roof membrane), and other systems (ground-mounted). The rates are quite high for residential at 38.80 cents but plummet to 11.08 cents for ground-mounted, making these systems roughly on par with French retail rates. For details, see CRE’s website (in French).

In similar news, the British Department of Energy and Climate change announced last week that it has come up with new modifications to the country's feed-in tariffs for solar now that the roughly 50 percent cuts announced last year are tied up in a court battle. The new goal is to complete the current round of consultation on February 9 so that new rates can take effect as of April 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year in the UK. The new proposed rates, which look very much like the old ones, would apply for systems installed starting on March 3.

Finally, the German government continues to grapple with the record volume of installations in 2011. At a meeting last week, proponents of a ceiling of 500 or 1,000 megawatts of photovoltaics (compared to roughly 7,500 last year) met with the political opposition. The country's Environmental Minister Röttgen continues to oppose a ceiling, but now FDP party head Rösler – who is also Economic Minister (Germany has no Energy Ministry) surprisingly states now that he does not support a cap on annual installations. Other than Rösler's apparent about-face, the meeting produced no tangible result, with Green energy expert Hans-Josef Fell stating that it could be months before a decision is announced. In addition to lower rates for solar, Germany desperately needs to figure out how to deal with the surge of solar power in the summer; in just six months, PV generation that could regularly make up a third of demand for hours at a time on sunny days. (Craig Morris)

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