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What is going on with the Feed In Tariff?

The Feed In Tariff has been all over the news recently, and the various government attempts to change it have made it very confusing. Currently, if you install solar panels by March 3rd, 2012, you will be eligible for the following:

Size of SystemRate per kWh Pre 03/03/12*Rate per kWh Post 03/03/12
<4kW Existing Building43.3p21p
<4kW New Building37.8p21p

The government initially tried to decrease the current rates in line with the post 3rd of March rates, however, this change was deemed illegal by the High Court after an appeal by Friends of the Earth, Homesun and Solar Century. The government then tried to launch an appeal at the High Court to overturn this decision, but they were refused the right to appeal by the judge on the basis that they had no grounds to do so.

The reason the government wanted to fast track the changes to the rate was that solar prices have fallen by approximately 30% since the start of the scheme in April 2010, so solar panels have become much more popular than expected and thus there were concerns in the Department of Energy and Climate Change about the costs of running the scheme.

*Having been refused an appeal at the High Court, the government are currently seeking permission to appeal at the Supreme Court. The view of everyone we've spoken to is that this is an attempt by the government to decrease confidence in solar panels as an investment (ie there is a tiny chance that current installations could receive the lower rates), and so whilst they are very unlikely to win an appeal, they will manage to reduce the number of installations between now and March.

In reality, what we've seen is another rush of people desperate to get quotes for solar panels before the Feed In Tariff decreases - now is the final chance to get them at the higher 43.3p rate for domestic installations. Even at the lower rates, they still offer a fantastic investment compared to building society accounts etc, and so we think we'll continue to see a lot of installations taking place.

Solar Installers: Download a plain version of this article to print and give to your customers.