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20 July 2019
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Wales cashes in ahead of tariff amends

18 July 2011

The largest solar park in Wales will connect to the green energy grid ahead of the government's amendment to solar energy subsidies.

The £2.5m landmark investment at the Rhos-Y-Gilwen estate in Pembrokeshire will go into action three weeks before the UK government lowers the subsidy for large-scale solar energy investors, due to take place on 1 August.

The panels are expected to generate 2MW of electricity to power 600 local homes.

It comes just seven months after Western Solar was granted permission to place 10,000 panels on land close to Rhos-Y-Gilwen mansion.

Dr Glen Peters, who owns the estate and conference and arts centre, said that as well as creating green energy, the system will create a sustainable income to fund the centre.

Currently, the Feed-in tariffs (FIT) scheme allows large-scale solar farms with a capacity between 10kw and 100kw to  claim 32.9p per kilowatt hour. Those greater than 100kw, such as at Rhos-Y-Gilwen, can claim 30.7p. However, from 1 August 2011, new entrants into the scheme will receive amended tariffs. Any large-scale solar farms with a capacity above 250 kilowatts and up to 5 megawatts will be able to claim 8.5p per kilowatt hour.

Schemes between 150 kilowatts and 250 kilowatts will be able to claim 15p per kilowatt hour and schemes ranging from 50 kilowatts to 150 kilowatts 19p per kilowatt hour. Solar installations below 50 kilowatts are unchanged.

The average household installation, less than 4 kilowatts, will still be claiming the highest bracket of 43.3p per kilowatt hour.

Dr Owen Guy, Swansea University's senior lecturer in nanotechnology told FM World: “What this holds for the future is unknown to some extent, but I predict fewer large scale farms (up to 4 megawatts) and more of the 50Kw sized ones.

“But there still remains an opportunity for domestic and industrial buildings, despite the reduced tariffs. Larger companies were seeing up to 10 per cent in financial return, but we are likely to see less of that in the future.

“The UK solar market has grown massively. We’re still a relatively small player in terms of Europe, but we have seen a massive growth in the past two years – mainly due to the feed-in-tariffs.”

Back in June, Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker announced the importance of the changes in tariffs: "The FIT scheme has a vital role in building a more decentralised energy economy, but if we don’t act now to keep short-term expenditure on solar PV more closely in line with the forecast that we inherited from the last government, the negative impacts on the scheme will be considerable and the amount of funding for other technologies and smaller, domestic scale solar PV will be severely constrained”.