Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 35

This issue covers:

UK solar industry opposes latest DECC proposals

The UK Solar Trade Association (STA) has urged the Government to do more to support Britain’s solar industry.

A letter organised by the trade association and signed by more than 150 businesses has been sent to Prime Minister David Cameron to coincide with the closing of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) consultation on proposals to remove renewable obligation support for solar farms over 5MW.

The letter emphasises the benefits of developing UK solar at all scales - developing a healthy commercial, residential and solar farm market, in order to take advantage of the predicted £78 billion per annum global solar market in 2020. However, the signatories believe that the current policy framework makes this target unachievable.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association explained: “Solar is a home-grown solution to Britain’s energy crisis. If the government provides a stable policy environment solar will soon be subsidy free. But the government is now proposing to tilt the playing field against large-scale solar, while not taking sufficient action to unlock commercial rooftop solar - that is unacceptable.

“We urge DECC not to close the Renewables Obligation to large-scale solar and to rethink proposals on feed-in tariffs to allow a meaningful rooftop market which their own Solar PV Strategy recognises has such tremendous potential.”

The STA claims that DECC’s entire reason for revising support for large-scale solar is unfounded. The association calculates that solar farms only account for 5% of RO expenditure, and therefore rejects the claim that solar farm deployment is threatening the levy control framework (LCF).

Germany reviews subsidies

Germany has announced a reduction in renewable energy subsidies as part of new reforms aimed at curbing rising energy prices and keeping its green energy ambitions on track.

The new law, overwhelmingly approved in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, aims to provide new impetus to the energy shift under which the country’s plans to meet 80 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2050.

Germany introduced a generous system of subsidies for green energies in the late 1990s, a move which has borne fruit with 27 percent of the electricity used in the first quarter of this year coming from renewable sources, but it is regarded as costly.

The subsidies are funded by a tax levied on customers' electricity bills, which has driven up energy prices in Germany to count among Europe's highest.

Under the new law, the subsidies will be substantially reduced from August 1, while producers of green energy will also gradually have to sell competitively on the market rather than enjoying priority treatment with guaranteed prices. Full story at

Sun shines on solar PV in California

California's solar energy output set a new record recently, although renewables still represent a small share of the state's power generation, the US Energy Department has reported.

On June 1, 2014, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) recorded a record midday hourly peak of 4767 MW of utility-generated solar electricity delivered into the California grid. With rapidly growing utility-scale solar capacity, CAISO has regularly recorded new hourly output records going back to 2010 when it first began publishing the daily data.

When the hourly data are averaged over the course of a month to control for weather variation, the average peak hourly generation in May 2014 of 4086 MW was 150 per cent greater than the level in May 2013.

During peak daylight hours, solar power supplied 14 percent of the electricity for the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state's grid.

"Solar and renewables still constitute a relatively small share of generation for California in the context of all fuel sources," the EIA said in a recent briefing. "Natural gas accounted for 59 percent of net generation in 2013, and 3,940 MW of new natural gas capacity came online in 2013." In 2013 California accounted for more than 75 percent of the total US solar output.

More at


UK solar companies win High Court support for damages claim

The High Court has ruled in favour of 14 UK solar companies who brought a £132 million damages claim against the government.

The group is pursuing damages following the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) cuts to the feed-in tariff scheme in 2011. The companies claim that the "unlawful and unfair" cuts to the feed-in tariff caused their businesses substantial damages resulting in thousands of redundancies.

Prospect Law, the group’s legal representation, claims that it has obtained a ruling on “the essential legal questions in the case”. The group is seeking damages under the Human Rights Act 1998, in order to do so the claimant companies had to prove that they had ‘possessions’ for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Justice Coulson ruled that the claimant firms did have possessions; that DECC unlawfully interfered with their possessions; and that DECC's conduct caused substantial losses which were not justified. He said: "Although the entitlement to damages will ultimately depend on the facts, as a matter of general principle, the claimants have demonstrated an entitlement to damages assessed by reference to the loss of those possessions for which recovery is permissible, namely signed/concluded contracts and/or the marketable goodwill referable to such contracts."

A DECC spokesperson told Solar Power Portal: “We are unhappy about this judgement and will be appealing against it. We believed we were proposing lawful changes to subsidies, which would protect consumers from rising bills at a time when windfall profits meant the industry was booming.” Full story at

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