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RPA comment on Microgeneration funding gap
Submitted: 25 October 2005
The following comment from Seb Berry Head of Micro Renewables was included in the latest Green Alliance Parliamentary newsletter to MPs and members of the House of Lords.
It is crunch-time for renewable energy technologies supported by the DTI Clearskies and solar photovoltaics (pv) capital grant programmes. The final deadlines for large-scale project applications under these programmes are 4th November and 2nd December 2005 respectively.

The industry must then await the outcome of the DTI's consultation on a new six year Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP). Many uncertainties still surround the LCBP and these will not be resolved fully until next year. But what we do know is that the earliest possible funding round under the LCBP will be July 2006. This leaves a minimum gap of 8 months from the final Clearskies deadline. This gap could of course be far longer if the LCBP timetable continues to slip.

The commercial consequences of this stop-start approach to Government support are obvious. Investment decisions are on hold. Hard won jobs in the fledgling UK micro-renewables sector are now under serious threat. Business planning is impossible. Yet just one year ago, the DTI assured the industry that the LCBP was expected to take the place of existing programmes by March 2006.

So what can be done now about this looming black hole in support?

  • First, we have proposed that the DTI confirms immediately a final “continuity” funding round in early 2006 for both Clearskies and solar pv Major Demonstration Programmes. This will cost a maximum of £2.5 million.
  • Second, we continue to make the very strong case for a one year extension to these successful programmes. This will allow proper time for development and roll-out of the LCBP.
  • Since the 2001 ‘Opportunities for All’ White Paper, the Government has emphasised the importance of its capital grant programmes in supporting “emerging” and “near commercial” renewable energy technologies. The proposed six year LCBP is consistent with this medium-term approach. But in focussing on the LCBP it is essential that the DTI now addresses the funding gap and the limited steps needed to resolve it.

    Seb Berry- Head of Micro Renewables.

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