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Feed-in Tariff Scheme

Volume 541: debated on Thursday 8 March 2012

1. How many households he estimates will be taking part in the feed-in tariff scheme by 2015 following implementation of his reforms. (98659)

We now estimate that, thanks to our reforms, there will be nearly 1 million installations under the FITs scheme by 2014-15, compared with only 350,000 under the old scheme. Final numbers will of course depend on future technology costs and market growth. As for household share, 97% of current installations are classified as domestic, and it is likely that the majority will continue to fall into that category.

The feed-in tariff regime, as recently reformed by the Secretary of State, strikes a fair balance between those who install solar PV and the consumer who meets the cost. It will result in far more installations and it will be more popular. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, in a democracy, striking that balance in achieving his renewal energy targets and the consequent support of the people should always be his objective?

I think I can agree with that. My hon. Friend is right to say that our reforms will boost solar power, help more families and reduce costs in consumer bills.

The way in which this has been handled has been a bit of a disaster. I accept that the Minister has made some changes, but they have been detrimental to the overall confidence in the scheme. Putting that to one side for a moment, may I ask him to look seriously at enabling bigger entities such as community centres, schools and other community facilities to benefit from the scheme, to provide a kick-start over and above that given to the householders who participate in it?

In our proposals, smaller community projects will benefit from the decision to apply only the lower aggregated tariff to generators with more than 25 installations. We are now consulting on a definition of “community” and on how that could be used, including a possible tariff guarantee process and a higher rate for community-owned multi-installations, compared with commercial ones. I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that that type of community approach was not in the old scheme.