26.03.2012
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Energy policy

UK Supreme Court rejects cuts to PV

On Friday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the government's appeal after a lower court rejected the government's premature cuts to feed-in tariffs for photovoltaics before the consultation period had ended.

 - Former Secretary of Energy Chris Huhne, who stepped down on February 3, eventually lost his case last week, but the damage was largely already done. Photo: DECC
Former Secretary of Energy Chris Huhne, who stepped down on February 3, eventually lost his case last week, but the damage was largely already done. Photo: DECC

The bad news is that the proposed cuts to feed-in tariffs, which have been roughly cut in half for photovoltaics, still apply, but the good news is that arrays completed by March 3 are still eligible for the old tariffs. The court reminded the government that the government must present the changes to Parliament, and the changes cannot take effect until 40 days afterwards.

On its website, the Department of Energy and Clinic Change (DECC) tersely expressed its "disappointment" at the court's refusal to hear the case and said the government is moving on to ensure the "future stability and cost effectiveness of solar and other microgeneration technologies for the many, not the few."

Solar Century, one of the plaintiffs in the challenge to the government's sudden policy change, expressed its relief but also its dismay that "the legal process has wasted much needed time and money." The company's chairman Jeremy Leggett took the opportunity to point out that the UK government has a target of 20 gigawatts of PV by 2020, and only one gigawatt is currently installed.

Friends of the Earth, another plaintiff, commented on the Supreme Court's decision by saying that the "Government just wouldn't stop spending time and money on its fight" and pointed out the damage done by the months of legal uncertainty. It should also be kept in mind that all such sudden changes lead to a rush of installations, thereby increasing poor workmanship as straight people struggle to hook up equipment by an artificial deadline.

Going forward, the question is whether the new rates will be enough to allow the country to continue installing at a rate of more than two gigawatts per year for nearly the next decade in order to reach that goal. Friends of the Earth is skeptical that the government can reach its target with the current policy and says it "must now spell out how it is going to do it." (Craig Morris)

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1 Comment on "UK Supreme Court rejects cuts to PV "

  1. aligatorhardt - 22.04.2012, 16:41 Uhr (Report comment)

    It sounds like a breach of contract to invite investments based on pay schemes, then terminate the agreement before the agreed time period has passed. Investors deserve legitimate government contracts.

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