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Solar power groups urge ongoing government support for ‘export tariff’

Open letter signed by hundreds of organisations urges environment minister to ensure ongoing commitment to mechanism to pay for solar power to be fed back into national grid

Over 200 NGOs, companies and trade bodies have signed an open letter calling on the government to maintain support for an ‘export tariff’ programme that they argue supports the broader uptake of solar power systems and batteries.

New approaches to energy use and generation are vital to efforts in ensuring more efficient and sustainable heating solutions, with Whitehall currently in the process of finalising its long-term environmental strategies.

The open letter published by the Solar Trade Association (STA), which has been addressed to energy minister Claire Perry, is calling for a continuation of the export tariff mechanism beyond next April.

The export tariff accompanies the existing ‘Feed-in Tariff’ (FiT) offered by the government.

STA chief executive Chris Hewett warned there was widespread concern over the possibility that government would fail to continue to support the export tariff mechanism that ensures payments for households and SMEs using solar generators to return energy back into the national electricity network.

He added, “We are asking the energy minister to act quickly and promise to maintain the export tariff and to uphold the basic rights of a market.”

Concerns about the future of the export tariff have been raised as the government closes a consultation around the FiT. The tariff was introduced to promote adoption of renewable and lower carbon energy technologies.

The open letter alleges that significant policy uncertainty remains over the future of FiT that is currently scheduled to end in March.

Mr Hewett also called for a new approach to regulations that were acting as barriers for improved take-up of solar energy for key power needs in the UK, such as current approaches to introducing smart meters that can manage demand.

He said, “It is vital for government to ensure households and small businesses are taken on a clear and secure journey in the emerging smart energy system. It is not too late for some really positive policies given the potential of smart homes and businesses to save the system and our economy billions of pounds compared to business as usual. Removing illogical barriers to the 830,000 solar homes in the UK to installing battery storage and smart meters is also an easy win.”

“Let’s be clear; we are not asking for subsidy. We are asking for fair treatment for the everyday people and businesses who want to invest in clean power to do something really meaningful to help tackle climate change. Government must support their efforts.”

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