Green energy scheme which benefits thousands in Norfolk set to close
PUBLISHED: 14:35 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:24 04 November 2019
A green energy scheme which has benefited thousands of households in the region could close to newcomers.
The scheme - called the feed-in tariff - rewards those who opt for green energy generators, with the most popular being solar panels.
Each household earns money for the electricity they produce for themselves as well as for the excess energy they export onto the grid for others.
Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show there are 15,824 households in Norfolk which benefit from the scheme since it started in 2010.
This includes 1,316 in Norwich, all of which use solar panels, as well as 4,425 in South Norfolk, 2,886 in Broadland, 2,631 in North Norfolk, 2,956 in West Norfolk and 1,610 in Great Yarmouth.
According to the Renewable Energy Association, households could expect to save between £100 to £200 a year on their energy bills and receive around £100 per year from the two tariff payments.
But government plans could see the scheme closed to new participants from March next year, stating the scheme is funded through levies on suppliers and so the cost is being passed onto consumers without solar panels.
By the year 2020, the government estimates the scheme would add a burden of £1.6b to consumer bills - more than three times higher than originally estimated.
The move has raised fears that green energy would become less attractive and lead to a drop in solar panel installations, costing jobs in the sector.
Denise Carlo, Green Party leader for Norwich, said the news comes at a time when climate change should be a governmental priority.
She pointed to the report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned governments to take rapid action by 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change.
"We have been told we only have 12 years to cut our carbon emissions, and unless incentives are in place to get people to switch to renewable energy it's not going to happen," Ms Carlo said.
Director of Solar East Anglia, Ben Boon, said the decision will have a huge impact on his Norwich-based business, which installs both commercial and domestic solar panels.
He said the company started with a team of 18 people in 2010 but it reduced down to six due to dramatic cuts to tariff rates - from around 45p per kilowatt hour to 3p - which led to fewer people installing solar panels.
"Solar panels are very popular, there's a bit of a rush now to get installations before the feed-in tariff ends," he said. "But once it ends we don't know what the future holds.
"It's a big concern, an unknown future is quite worrying."