Village Energy Project – Update THURSDAY 08 December 2011

December 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Climate Change, Village News

A lot has been happening behind the scenes in the past two weeks.  While I cannot yet tell you the entire story, I can say that the question of feed in tariff cuts is still wide open and the battle is heating up.  As I have said in previous e-mails the likely scenario is a compromise which will vacate the 12th December cut-off and extend the current 43.3 p feed in tariff (FiT) until at least 31 March 2012. At the moment our installations and planning are on hold pending a decision.  Here are the latest developments:

1. High Court Agrees to Hear FiT Challenge:

After much legal manoeuvring, the High Court will hear a petition to permit a challenge to the government’s feed in tariff cuts.  The petition is brought by Friends of the Earth (FOE) and two solar companies. It will be heard next Thursday 15 December.  A Judicial Review is complicated and it will take time. However, the pressure is mounting on government to compromise. Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “It’s short sighted for Ministers to move the goalposts and prematurely pull the subsidy – this will cost tens of thousands of jobs, bankrupt businesses and reduce Treasury income by up to £230 million a year.” Lots more late next week on this.

2. Face-Saving Strategy for 2012?

The industry is also actively lobbying the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to increase the Export Tariff.  The export tariff is currently set at 3.1p per kWh.  DECC is being asked to raise that to at least 9p.  This may be a signal for what will happen AFTER April 2012 – a ‘compromise formula’ bringing the total payment to homeowners to at least 30p (21p FiT plus 9p DECC topup). This would provide excellent returns given the rapid drop in the cost of PV panels coming in January 2012.

NOTE: This is all getting very political. The coalition will be very uncomfortable if the continuing anger over the FiT cuts results in a substantial Labour comeback in the 2012 local elections. It’s something that neither David Cameron or Nick Clegg wants as it would weaken their leadership of their respective parties.

3. European Commission to Bring Legal Action Against UK over FiT Cuts:

The European Commission has now stated publicly that it will take legal action against the UK because its action to cut the tariff to 21p undermines the UK’s legal binding 2020 target for renewable energy production. The Commission’s position is that any changes to FiT support schemes must be done in a manner which does not undermine and destabilize the renewable energy industry. What the statement really says is: Germany, the most powerful player in the EU and the main hope of preventing a second recession or worse in the UK, is very unhappy that its solar industry will be hit heavily by the UK cuts to the feed in tariff. Hence, the very real threat of action by the Commission.

German solar PV, inverters, roof mountings, wind turbines and even some of their underemployed installation teams are coming into the UK in large numbers. Renewable energy is big business and Germany is the clear leader of renewable energy manufacturing in the EU.  Until the 31 October (Halloween) announcement of the feed-in-tariff cuts by Minister Greg Barker, the UK was catching up quickly and there was talk of large scale investments planned for new renewable energy manufacturing here. That would mean lots of new jobs and a growing economy.

The threat of European Commission action could be another face saving way out for the government which has been widely condemned for it’s FiT cuts. For many conservative back benchers this could be more ammunition for their anti-EU campaign. And for the Lib Dems, it would be a welcome relief as the FiT cuts issue is unlikely to be favourable to Lib Dem candidates in the May 2012 local elections. Both parties could hold up their hands and say “the EU made us do it.” The ‘it’ being the re-instatement of the original FiT rate. As mentioned above, the leaders of both parties in the coalition are on shakey ground over the UK economy and the Europe Union.  A bad election result could seal their fate.

We Are Not Alone:

The FiT cuts here are part of a worldwide campaign by big energy companies to maintain the status quo and keep us on a fossil fuelled road well into the future.  The big energy companies are pulling out all the stops as countries around the world are initiating their own feed in tariffs to encourage adoption of clean renewable energy.

There is a worldwide campaign to stop that development and to continue on a ‘business as usual’ footing. We know that such a plan is suicide for virtually all of us. Yet the short term profits are just too enticing for the large energy companies. Today at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Durban the United States, pushed by its own powerful energy lobby, is trying to get a resolution passed to delay all cuts of CO2 emissions until 2020.  Of course, by then it will be too late.

This is a time of great technological change.  We’ve seen it before. Those of us who remember technology in the late 1960′s will know the name IBM.  They were the undisputed leader in computing and a very powerful player on the world market.  In the early 70′s if you had a computer in your office it usually meant you had a ‘dumb terminal’ connected to some remote IBM computer in a major city.  The idea of ‘distributed computing’ with a real computer on every desk was something out of science fiction.  When the first microcomputers came out they were curiosities rather than the workhorses they are today.  IBM tried to sabotage the idea of distributed computing but failed.

Today we can’t imagine a world without our laptops and ipads (and smartphones, too!) That scenario is being played out again – this time with energy generation.  Our grand kids will find it amusing that we once had centralised power stations that required big ugly power distribution pylons spoiling our landscape instead of rooftop technology that converted solar energy into free power for our homes and vehicles.


Every new idea goes through three phases: 1. Ridicule; 2. Persecution; and finally 3. Acceptance as self-evident.  We are in the latter part of stage 2.  Energy companies (oil, gas, coal, electricity, and nuclear) are pouring money and political capital into preventing the inevitable: renewable energy generated in every home and village in the country. To most of us the idea is already self-evident.  Those companies who oppose the idea will either have to change or move out of the way – just like IBM did.

The key to a bright, clean and inexpensive energy future depends on us – not on government, not on big fossil energy companies.  DO contact our MP James Paice to remind him that you are watching. This whole fight is disgustingly political. It’s time to make your voice heard.

More as it happens …

Ken Doyle
Village Energy Project
HI Courier

A big 'thank you' goes to Hollyoak Veterinary Surgery in Impington for their financial and technical support. Without it this website would not be possible.

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