Future’s bright for solar PV after tariff storm settles

Farmers are increasingly returning to the benefits – and profits – of renewable energy as new rules for the Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) have refreshed the market.

Instead of the huge reductions last December and then again in April this year, the government will in future reduce rates by a predictable 3.5 per cent every three months, with contracts lasting 20 years not 25.

This means that the booms that happened before rates were reduced, and the subsequent busts, should be a thing of the past as the changes will be much smaller and more regular.

Evidence for farmers’ increasing enthusiasm comes from Photon Energy, which recently recruited agricultural sales representative James Maddison to deal with the growing market.

James said: “Farmers don’t need educating about the benefits of solar PV or wind turbines, they want reassurance against the negative coverage of the FITs. They have reduced, but costs have fallen too so the returns are as good as ever.”

Photon Energy director Jonathan Bates explained: “With solar energy you could pay as little as 7.4p per kWh for your electricity – and this is fixed for 20 years.  This compares to current electricity prices of 10p or 12p from the electricity companies.  And their prices are not going to fall in the future.  With a PV array, farmers can protect themselves against prices rising even higher.

"Taking into account inflation, you'll receive £16,000 a year by the end of a 20-year contract on 50kW system – and even £9,000 after that from the savings and continued sale of surplus power."