UK PV firms go to court over RO

Four of the UK’s largest solar companies have requested a judicial review over government proposals to halt renewables obligation (RO) support for large solar farms from early next year.

Solarcentury, TGC Renewables, Lark Energy and Orta Solar Farms claim that a move by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to withdraw RO support for solar firms over 5MW from April 2015 is unlawful.

The RO scheme, introduced in 2002, gives incentives for electricity suppliers in the UK to provide a rising share of power from renewables.

In May the DECC proposed an earlier end to RO subsidies for solar to prevent costs from soaring and to ensure there was sufficient cash for other low-carbon technologies.

However, the solar industry argues the move was unlawful, could cost the industry hundreds of millions of pounds and result in a large number of job cuts.

They allege the consultations carried out by Energy Secretary Ed Davey prior to the decision was a “sham”.

The companies have appointed solicitors Prospect Law to represent them. “The government put the RO in place to offer solar businesses the certainty they need through legislation, but now it is trying to remove this certainty through the back door,” says a spokesman.

“This behaviour was found to be unlawful in the case of feed-in tariffs, and it remains unlawful now.  It is surprising that DECC has not learnt its lesson,” he adds.

“Solar is tantalisingly close to becoming subsidy-free, meaning cheaper bills for consumers and we want to achieve this goal as quickly as possible,” Ben Cosh,  managing director of TGC Renewables, says in a statement.

“All we need from Ed Davey is stable and lawful policy, but instead he has yet again pulled the rug from under the industry’s feet,” he adds.

The judicial review will be the third time in as many years that the industry has brought a legal challenge against DECCs’ solar policies.

A DECC statement said: “We have managed to put ourselves among the world leaders on solar and our solar strategy will help us stay there.

“There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations and we must seize the opportunity this offers to boost our economy.

"We are not cutting off support for large-scale solar. It would have to compete on price with other established renewable technologies delivering consumers better value for money."