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Solar farm firms criticise green subsidies review

Energy companies that are developing solar ‘farms’ have hit out at a review aimed at removing green subsidies from commercial ventures, warning they represent better value for money than household solar panels.

The government announced last week that it was reviewing the feed-in tariff scheme amid concerns large-scale solar electricity schemes were cashing in on the incentives designed to boost small-scale renewable energy generation.

With subsidies paying out for solar electricity installations of up to 5 MW, the equivalent of 200 homes having the panels on their roofs, solar farms which stretch over a number of acres are being given the go-ahead.

The review has thrown the solar industry into uncertainty and has also provoked criticism from businesses investing in solar farms.

They claim that, as a result of economies of scale and the lower payments provided for large-scale operations, their installations are a more efficient use of the money being channelled into generating green electricity.

Chief executive of solar developer mO3 Power Ken Moss said: “It costs consumers £24 million to put 5 MW into the grid from rooftop arrays - it only costs us £12.3 million from a single farm.

“It is subsidising large-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) developments, which is the most efficient use of taxpayers’ money.”

However, the government’s decision was supported by heating and eco energy installer, Govan.

Managing director Daryl Govan said: “Solar farms, although valuable in their contribution to sustainable energy, are currently eating into and threatening the future of a FiT fund that was meant to incentivise consumers to purchase solar systems themselves.

“If this carries on, it will inevitably have a huge knock-on effect on the longevity of the FiT fund and consumers benefitting from it.”