Proposed changes to U.K.’s FiT program met with backlash from small hydro sector

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Changes to the United Kingdom’s Feed-In Tariff program could have a negative impact on a number of generation sectors — including small hydroelectric power — according to a number of industry groups.

The Feed-In Tariff (FiT) project was designed to promote small-scale renewables by providing consumers set payments by power suppliers for the energy their projects generate. However, the proposed changes would see the U.K. government reduce its support for hydro, wind and solar, while also setting a cap on the number of projects supported each quarter.

“The proposals in the Comprehensive Feed-In Tariff Review are, quite simply, terrible news for homeowners, businesses, communities and those local authorities which have plans in place to develop renewable energy schemes,” Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Joss Blamire said.

The proposals would be particularly damaging to hydropower, Blamire said, due to the development schedules required by many plants.

“The cuts could also spell the end for much of the hydro industry, which has enjoyed a renaissance but relies more heavily on government support because of the length of time taken to develop projects and the sector’s high capital costs,” Blamire said.

Meanwhile, efforts to mitigate the U.K.’s carbon emissions are also called into question given the FiT program’s emphasis on low-emissions technologies.

“It is important that we all work to manage costs, but it looks as if the long-term vision has been lost,” RenewableUK deputy chief executive Maf Smith said. “What we needed in this review was a clear vision for how we get to a point where cost-effective small-scale renewables are common-place, with all homes and businesses able to be part of a productive, vibrant, low-carbon economy.

“This review is not about how we build that prosperous future, but simply about short-term politics and accounting.”

The U.K. government is accepting responses to the proposal — available for viewing online here — through October 23. has previously reported on a number of  small hydropower projects within the U.K. that benefit from the FiT program, including the 700-kW Neaty, 900-kW Kames and 1.9-MW Ederline.

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