Since the completion of the nearly two-year-long comprehensive review of the Feed-in Tariff Scheme ("FiTs"), which began less than a year after the introduction of FiTs, those involved in small to medium-scale renewables will be aware that the tariffs applicable to new eligible renewable energy installations seeking to claim FiTs degress periodically. The principal trigger for tariff degression for the various technologies supported by FiTs is the deployment of those technologies in a preceding period (a year for wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion and a quarter for solar photovoltaics).

Cue 2014 and a year where the 73.4MW installed capacity trigger level for the maximum degression of FiTs for medium-scale wind (i.e. installations from >100kW to 5MW) was reached after just the first two months of the year. With over 273MW deployed by the end of the year, that category will see a 20% degression in the applicable tariff from 1st April 2015. With over three times the relevant trigger level for small-scale wind (i.e. installations of up to 100kW) also reached in 2014, the same degression will apply across all wind tariffs.

Small-scale anaerobic digestion (i.e. installations of up to 500kW) saw a 383% increase in uptake in 2014 compared with 2013, also triggering a 20% tariff degression from April, while hydro tariffs face the same reduction too, following a 313% year-on-year increase in uptake.

The intention behind the degression mechanism is precisely to try to ensure that the FiTs payable in respect of eligible technologies remain in sync with the cost of deploying the technologies. However, there will no doubt be calls for either or both of the tariffs and the degression trigger levels to be subjected to a more detailed review, if uptake is so wildly in excess of anticipated levels. Deployment of wind in 2013 in fact also convincingly exceeded the trigger for the maximum 20% tariff degression.

Perhaps surprisingly, after suffering the most extreme cuts in the 2011-2012 comprehensive review, deployment and consequent tariff degression has seemingly been most stable for solar photovoltaics. For the quarter from April 2015, some solar PV tariffs will degress by just 3.5%, while others will see no degression.

Despite the uncertainty felt in the industry at the time of the comprehensive review, and to an extent on the eve of each tariff degression, time seems to be telling that small and medium-scale renewables in the UK remain on the up.

The relevant statistics can be viewed at:-

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