Solar firms to sue UK government over subsidy cuts once again.

Business Green: “Four of the UK’s leading solar companies are to sue the government over proposals to halt subsidies for large solar farms from early next year, sparking the third legal battle over solar policy in three years.”
“Solarcentury, Lark Energy, TGC Renewables, and Orta Solar Farms will tomorrow formally request a judicial review over the government’s consultation on the proposed closure of the Renewable Obligation (RO) subsidy regime to solar farms larger than 5MW from 1 April next year – two years earlier than planned.
Analysts have predicted the move could affect more than 200 solar farms,  while the government’s own impact assessment shows the changes could cut solar PV deployment under the RO from 4.5GW to 3.2GW in 2015/16.
The government has consistently argued the early change to the scheme are needed in order to prevent large solar farms eating up too much of the £7.6bn Levy Control Framework (LCF) budget that has been earmarked to support a wide range of clean energy technologies through to 2021.
It also maintains that solar farm developers will still be able to secure support from the new Contract for Difference (CfD) subsidy regime, which will launch later this year, although they will have to compete with rival developers for support through the scheme.
However, the solar companies say the government is scapegoating the solar industry, given that much of the LCF budget has already been allocated to eight offshore wind and biomass schemes under the Final Investment Decision (FID) enabling regime.
A report by the National Audit Office in June found that these eight projects have already used up 58 per cent of the LCF and questioned whether the FID scheme is necessary to meet the UK’s renewable energy goals.
In contrast, solar farms have used just five per cent of the Renewables Obligation budget, which itself forms just one component of the LCF, alongside CfDs, the Feed-in Tariff scheme, and the Warm Home Discount.
A spokesman for Prospect Law, the legal firm that is acting on behalf of the solar companies, accused the government of acting unlawfully by trying to close the RO to solar farms two years earlier than originally planned.
“The government put the Renewables Obligation 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,” he said. “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.”
Ben Cosh, managing director of TGC Renewables, accused the government of pulling the rug from under the feet of the solar industry. “Solar is tantalisingly close to becoming subsidy free, meaning cheaper bills for consumers, and we want to achieve this goal as quickly as possible,” he said. “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.”
The case is the third legal action launched by the solar industry against government subsidy cuts in just three years.
Last month, the High Court ruled that a number of solar firms are entitled to compensation, after the Supreme Court previously ruled the government’s decision to rush through cuts to the feed-in tariff incentives for solar installations in late 2011 was unlawful.
The ruling meant the government could be forced to pay compensation to solar installers of up to £132m, although DECC is currently appealing against the decision.
Ministers will now be looking to construct a strong defence against the latest action, as they bid to avoid a repeat of the government’s previous two legal defeats at the hands of the solar industry.”