Scotland retains 'grandfathering' for RO solar projects

The Scottish government is to retain the so-called ‘grandfathering’ guarantee for solar projects in Scotland under the Renewables Obligation (RO) in sharp contrast to England and Wales.

“As is the case for the wider renewables industry, developers of solar projects need clarity and certainty on the policy environment in order to attract funding and reach financial close,” says Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing in an open letter.

The move follows a consultation by the UK government on closing the RO to solar projects below 5MW from 1 April, 2016.  This consultation, which closed on 2 September,  included removing the grandfathering guarantee for new projects and a proposed banding review for projects in England and Wales.

Grandfathering within the RO scheme offers a guarantee that a certain level of subsidy will be provided throughout the lifetime of a project once built.

Decisions on grandfathering policy and RO banding reviews in relation to projects in Scotland are matters for Scottish ministers.

The Scottish government has also announced it will not be reviewing the level of RO support for solar prior to the early closure of the scheme, as is being proposed in England and Wales under the so-called banding review.

In the open letter Ewing expressed “disappointment” at the failure of the UK government to consult with the Scottish government on its proposals.

“This shows that the Scottish government is fully committed to solar providing as much as possible of its 100% renewables target for Scotland,” says John Foster, chairman of the Solar Trade Association Scotland.

“Solar projects in Scotland now know what level of support they are going to get, and that they will get it for the full 20 years.  It won’t be possible to cut support for Scottish projects down the line in, for example, year 15 of 20.”

“We particularly appreciate how minister Ewing has moved as quickly as possible in making this decision, allowing solar businesses to plan ahead and focus their efforts on any Scottish projects in the pipeline.”