Green energy subsidy scheme will be shut to large solar farms as ministers attempt to curb blight to countryside
DECC admits that the spread of solar farms has been “much stronger than anticipated in government modelling” and some have been sited “insensitively”. Photo: ALAMY
Subsidies that have driven the spread of large solar farms across Britain are to be scrapped under plans to stop the panels blighting the countryside.
Energy companies that build solar farms currently qualify for generous consumer-funded subsidies through the so-called ‘Renewable Obligation’ (RO) scheme, and had expected to keep doing so until 2017.
But the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced on Tuesday that it planned to shut the RO to new large solar farms two years early, from April next year.
The decision follows an admission by ministers that far more projects have been built than expected, leading to an rising subsidy bill for consumers and increasing local opposition.
Greg Barker, the energy minister, pledged last month that solar farms must not become “the new onshore wind” and said he wanted solar panels installed on factory rooftops instead.
Although a separate, new subsidy scheme will be made available to large solar farms, it is expected to be far more difficult for solar farms to gain funding under the new regime.