Death of the Feed-in-Tariff
The Feed-in-Tariff was first introduced in the UK in April 2010 to act as a financial incentive for homes and businesses to take up renewable energy. Succesful applicants receive a payment for the clean energy they produce receiving a guaranteed fixed price, indexed for inflation for 20 years.
The Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) has been extremely successful at encouraging the take up of renewable energy. Most installations in the UK could not have happened without it.
Unfortunately, the FIT subsidy is set to end in April 2019. As set out by the Government in the 2017 Autumn budget, “there will be no new subsidies for renewables until 2025”.
So what does this mean for the future of renewables in the UK? Thankfully, a dramatic fall in costs since 2010 means that access to solar power is much more affordable than it was. As the costs to store energy using battery power technology decline the time is approaching where there will be no need for subsidies after all, though making this happen by April 2019 will be a challenge.
As the Feed-In-Tariff subsidy dimishes over the next year, solar power installers will be looking to use battery storage as a way of making new projects work financially. Being able to charge a battery with solar power means the electricity does not need to be consumed at the point of generation, instead it can be used when it’s needed, day or night. This could prove to be just the catalyst needed for wide-scale clean energy deployment.
Combining battery storage with renewable energy will unlock the door to using clean energy sources around the clock putting the final nail in the coffin for fossil fuels in our energy supply. Furthermore, in the same way that solar and wind power costs have plummeted, we can expect the price of battery storage to fall as production techniques improve and economies of scale take hold.
With falling costs, home energy storage is being seen as increasingly attractive in the UK, particularly to the 850,000 homes that have solar panels. The Tesla Powerwall, perhaps the best known energy storage battery, has recently become available in the UK, soon be challenged by a British made Nissan battery. Other British manufacturers are Powervault and Moixa. There have even been suggestions that electric vehicle batteries can be connected to the grid to sell extra power at peak times, adding another incentive to becoming an EV owner.
The energy market is certainly set for some rapid and profound changes in the years to come. In the last part of our Energy Trends blog series, we’ll look at the emerging popularity of heat pumps and how smart meters will change the way we buy power.