Up Front 04/11

‘Solar Genocide’ is how one person described the government’s recent announcement that it may cut its incentive initiative, the Feed-in Tariff (FIT), by up to 75% for solar projects above 50kW. The announcement by Greg Barker, the climate change minister, has caused outrage amongst many businesses that hoped to fund large scale solar power projects by taking advantage of the subsidy system announced last year. One of the many businesses affected by the change is mO3 Power, one of the UK’s largest solar developers. It is part funded by Tom Singh, owner of Weymouth based company New Look. Ken Moss, CEO of mO3 Power railed against the government’s announcement saying: “The future of Britain’s development of solar energy has been totally destroyed. At a stroke, all solar developments above 50kW have been rendered totally non-financeable.” The government, on the other hand, says the action is being taken to stop companies such as mO3 Power from “soaking up” all the cash meant to support homes, communities and small businesses. Mr Baker said: “The FITs scheme was never designed to be a profit generator for big business and financiers.” With the average household solar installation at around 2.5kW, homeowners looking to review their energy supply by adding solar capability won’t be affected. However those looking at a bigger picture, where investment in large scale solar power, subsidised by FITs could help Britain develop safer and cleaner energy supply will be lobbying against the plans. In the meantime, a two year project partly funded by the MOD is hoping to use solar power to help provide a reliable power supply for soldiers engaged in the battlefield. Replacing traditional battery packs, it will be lighter and will improve soldiers’ mobility. Moreover, by eliminating the need to return to base regularly to recharge batteries, it will increase the potential range and duration of infantry operations. No word so far on a feed-in-tariff for military battery packs, but of course it’s early days yet.