On 1 July the BPVA and DECC hosted the first Commercial and Domestic Rooftop Solar PV Conference in London, attended by over 300 delegates being a mix of solar companies, professional advisors, commercial and industrial property owners, investors and occupiers.
The opening address was from Chris Huhne (ex-Secretary of State for DECC) with Session one of the conference being a speech from the Rt Hon Greg Barker MP, who was at that point the Minister of State for Energy & Climate Change, talking about the Government’s policy on solar.
It might have been expected that, given the government’s frequent changes to the various incentives payable for solar PV (the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and Renewables Obligations Certificates (ROCs)), they would have received a hostile reception, but quite on the contrary they received a relatively warm reception as they highlighted the government’s commitment to encourage the installation of more solar PV between now and 2020.
The Conference was, of course, the perfect platform for the government to talk up the second part of DECC’s UK Solar PV Strategy document which was published in April 2014 (the first part having come out last October).
A summary of the nine key points outlined by Greg Barker in his speech are set out below:
- The Government are keen to drive an ambitious roll-out of rooftop installations, which will require a real step change in order to achieve the government’s desired target of 20GW of solar PV deployment in the UK by early in the next decade. At present the level of deployment rests at around 3.2GW. Greg Barker said “I want to put rocket-boosters under the commercial and industrial solar sectors here in Britain”
- The Government is keen to push deployment on as many of Britain’s 24,000 schools as possible.
- To encourage roll-out on commercial and industrial rooftops the Government is considering relaxing planning rules such that installations under 1MW in size would come within the permitted development regime. The present upper limit for permitted development rights is 50kW.
- The Government is currently assessing the Government estate, such as hospitals and Ministry of Defence properties, for its suitability for solar PV with the intention of installing approx. 1,000 MW of solar PV on that estate.
- The Government is introducing a simplified accreditation process for FiTs with Ofgem, to enable approval of applications for FiTs more swiftly.
- The Government is considering changing the regime for FiTs such that it would be possible for panels to be transferred from one rooftop to another when the user or owner moves without losing the FiT, subject to certain conditions being met.
- Last month DECC launched a consultation on changing the levels of FiT to favour commercial rooftop development over solar in fields. Given the commitments set out in the solar strategy document it is very likely those changes will be pushed through.
- It was acknowledged that there is a problem in getting the District Network Operators to deal with applications for grid connection in a timely fashion, so Ofgem has put in place new regimes to impose standards of performance on utility providers and penalties when agreed timeframes and provision of service are not met.
- They are launching a taskforce to bring together landlords, estate agents, lawyers, large retailers and solar developers, with a round table discussion scheduled for early September to look at issues experienced with tenanted properties (for example who pays and who benefits) which create a potential barrier to deployment, and how those issues might be addressed.
The full speech can be viewed on the gov.uk website >
This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.