After much controversy over the premature closure of the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme, the government has bent under the pressure and allowed an extended grace period.
There are no plans to bring back the RO scheme, as Amber Rudd sticks to her pledge amid claims she is protecting customers against high bills.
“As we have already shown, we will be tough on subsidies. We said in our manifesto that we would halt the spread of subsidised onshore windfarms… And six weeks into this Parliament, that’s what we did.”
Projects with planning permission, a grid connection and land rights were already offered a grace period in order to bring about nearly 3GW of onshore wind capacity. But now the government have extended their leniency to projects that were struggling to find financing giving them a further nine months to secure funding.
A government statement explained: “The projects that are eligible for the grace period will need to demonstrate either that they had planning consent as at 18 June; that they have successfully appealed a planning refusal made on or before 18 June; or that they have successfully appealed after not receiving a planning decision due by 18 June.”
Projects that have met all these criteria and can demonstrate that they have struggled to secure finance from lenders since 18 June will be allowed extra time but no longer than nine months.”
This announcement comes after the Tories received much criticism over diminishing investor confidence in the renewables market and public outrage at the seemingly small importance the government were placing on clean energy development.
“It is clear that government has sought to address some unintended consequences of the decision to close the RO,” said Michael Rieley senior policy manager for Scottish Renewables.
We have a sneaking feeling that Rudd may be trying to gain favour after Corbyn’s popularity has rocketed, along with public support for renewable energy development.
After all, analyst estimates of onshore wind deployment by the end of the decade had barely changed as a result of the RO cuts. Currently the UK has almost 9GW of onshore wind capacity already installed with a consensus estimate of 13GW by the end of the decade.
The government estimate for 2020 is now just slightly lower at 12.3GW as a result of the RO closure. Looks like this is a game of politics, not a requirement for more renewable capacity.