Summary of ‘Feed-in Tariff: Draft Guidance for Community Energy and School Installations’

Ofgem published draft guidance for public consultation in December 2012 on the FIT for community energy and school installations.

New benefits for community organisations and education providers have been introduced from 1 December 2012. These benefits are focussed solely on solar PV installations (excluding extensions) with an eligibility date on or after 1 December 2012 and include 1) a tariff guarantee for community organisations, and 2) a relaxation from the existing minimum energy efficiency requirements for both community energy and school installations.

Definitions

Community energy installation:
‘An eligible installation – which is wired to provide electricity to a building which is not a dwelling; and in relation to which the FIT generator is a community organisation’

Community organisation:
‘Community interest company; or a community benefit or co-operative society, other than such a company or society with more than 50 employees’

School installation:
An installation is a school installation’ if it is wired to provide electricity to a building which is used as the premises of a ‘qualifying educational institution’. Further, the applicant must be an ‘education provider’ who owns or is responsible for the management of that qualifying educational institution.

Qualifying educational institution:
In England and Wales, there are three categories of institutions, which are captured by the definition: schools, further educations colleges and academies:

  • Schools: an institution which is concerned principally with the delivery of primary and secondary education as its main focus.
  • Academies: the subsistence of the relevant funding agreement with the secretary of state ought to be definitive of an institution‘s status as an academy.
  • Further education: this captures the various further education colleges and sixth form colleges which subsist as corporations designated by an order of the secretary of state.

Universities, specialist institutes, conservatoires, and other higher education colleges do not fall within the definition of a qualifying educational institution.

Exceptions

  • Stand-alone installations
  • Domestic installations
  • Extensions to existing installations
  • Installations over 250 kW

Benefits

‘Tariff guarantee’ for community organisations:

  • Available to community energy installations not exceeding 50 kW Declared Net Capacity (DNC)
  • Community organisations can secure a tariff rate through a process of pre-registration with Ofgem, which confirms community ‘status’ and allocates a ‘tariff date’
  • The tariff rate that was valid on the ‘tariff date’ will be assigned to the community energy installation, irrespective of whether the tariff band has been reduced as a result of degression
  • Pre-registration is valid for one year beginning on the tariff date. The community organisation must commission the installation and apply to their FIT Licensee for FIT accreditation within the validity period in order to receive the tariff guarantee
  • Community energy installations with a DNC above 50 kW that apply for accreditation via the ROO-FIT process are not eligible for the ‘tariff guarantee’ but may wish to apply for ROO-FIT preliminary accreditation, which gives them a tariff guarantee for 6 months.

Relaxation from the existing minimum energy efficiency requirement

  • Both community energy and school installations up to 250 kW Total Installed Capacity (TIC) are eligible to apply
  • Once an installation‘s status as a community energy or school installation has been confirmed, a valid non-domestic EPC of any level (G or above) will satisfy the energy efficiency requirement to claim the standard tariff
  • There are two application routes:
  • for installations with a DNC not exceeding 50 kW, this is via the pre-registration process
  • for installations with a DNC above 50 kW but with a TIC not exceeding 250 kW, this is via the existing ROO-FIT accreditation process.

Questions

Regen SW and Communities for Renewables have two questions:

1. What about installations above 250 kW?
Community energy installations between 50 kW and 5 MW can apply for ROO-FIT preliminary accreditation, which gives them a tariff guarantee for 6 months for solar PV installations (1 year for AD and wind; 2 years for hydro).
It is not clear if there is a relaxation from the existing minimum energy efficiency requirement for installations above 250 kW. The government response to the Phase 2B consultation states: “We have decided to exempt all community energy solar PV projects on non-domestic buildings from the requirement to reach EPC level D... Additionally we will extend this provision to apply to schools and further education/sixth form colleges.” However, the Ofgem guidance only applies to installations with a TIC not exceeding 250 kW. We will ask Ofgem for clarification.

2. What about community owned ‘solar streets’ schemes on domestic properties?
There will be no relaxation from the existing minimum energy efficiency requirement for installations on domestic properties.
The ‘tariff guarantee’ for installations up to 50 kW will also not apply in this case, due to being installed on domestic properties. However, schemes over 50 kW will be able to apply for a tariff guarantee for 6 months through ROO-FIT preliminary accreditation.
We will question why the government has not put any special measures in place for community owned ‘solar streets’ schemes.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please get in touch with Tamar on tbourne@regensw.co.uk