We have reached the tipping point in the renewables revolution, global investment in renewables surpassed the investment in fossil fuels in 2016, 25 per cent of our electricity was generated from renewables in 2015, and in the provisional results of the Capacity Market auction 9 GW of gas dropped out and storage was the big winner with 500 MW of new capacity. The government chose the day Trump was elected to announce the new levelised cost of energy (average cost of the lifetime of the plant per MWh of electricity generated), showing that by 2025 new gas-fired power stations will cost £80 per MWh or more, with new nuclear at £95 per MWh, compared to onshore wind at £61 per MWh and large scale solar at £63 per MWh. Disrupting our dinosaur energy market is brutal and we’ve lost a lot of good companies and friends along the way, but the change won’t come from the centre, we have to make it happen. A smart, decentralised and flexible energy system involves change for everyone, which is why we will continue championing a diverse and engaged clean energy sector in the year ahead.

Having just got back from a really fun two days in Brussels with 15 community energy representatives, I feel very inspired and have gathered up lots of great ideas for Regen communities network in 2017. Plymouth Energy Community and Regen were invited by Molly Scott Cato MEP to help organise the trip to Brussels.

We heard from local energy co-ops, suppliers, trade associations and legislators on the continent; learnt more about the European Parliament, and what Brexit might mean for local energy. I came away with renewed enthusiasm for the bottom-up direct action that embodies community energy. Despite the challenges, many of you are still getting on with delivering incredible local energy projects, searching for the innovative solutions, and engaging your wider communities. Read Zoe’s blog about the Brussels community energy adventure here, or Johnathan’s blog here.

“I feel Inspired from learning about the European Parliament and how democratic it is, far more than our own government, and warmed by such awesome colleagues both in Europe and the UK.” Gill Wyatt ECOE.

“I have learnt loads and feel really appreciative of the role MEPs play in shaping energy policy. I fully understand the benefit of working with MEPs now to help provide them with evidence and stories of our work that will help them make the case for community energy.” Jonathan Carbon Coop.

Business rate increase for renewables

The Rateable Value (RV) used to calculate business rates is currently based on the position in 2008, before the Feed in Tariff (FIT) was introduced. Rates are reassessed every five years, so the new rates due to come into force in 2017 are based on the market valuations and FIT rates on 1 April 2015. Business rates for those of you with renewable energy assets could increase significantly as a result. The impact varies and will depend on the ownership structure you are using. The changes can impact all renewable technologies and all new and existing installations. We advise seeking independent financial advice on your projects. In general the impact will be worse if you own the assets and ‘mainly self-supply’, for solar PV commercial rooftop this could be an increase of six to eight times the current cost per year. This change drives people that own generation and mainly self-supply, towards having a separate entity (Special Purpose Vehicle) owning the asset. The Solar Trade Association (STA) have been campaigning against this and you can read their briefing on the problem for commercial solar PV rooftops here.

One positive is that business rates will now be reviewed every three years (rather than five years previously), so there will be a few years of pain, but the rates should go down considerably in the next review. In England and Wales, you can query your rateable value by contacting the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). Your local council decides the amount of rates you pay and administers rates bills (including reductions). More details here.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) changes announced

After nine months of waiting we now have a response from government on the future of the RHI. Many of the proposals put forward in the consultation have been implemented, but there are some notable surprises. Read Olly’s assessment here.

Author: Jodie Giles

Contact: [email protected]