This week one reader thinks the government has a strong FITs policy but weak PR, while another says Sir John Armitt is just plain wrong about the ODA’s ‘no marketing’ rule for firms working on the Olympics
The government appears to be losing its feed-in tariff fight with Friends of the Earth and the solar industry after the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s ruling.
The consultation process has not been well handled. It has created uncertainty, reduced investment and threatened jobs. It may also fail in its primary aim of controlling the feed-in tariff’s budget. The legal system is being used to delay another “mini-goldrush” in PV installations that is bound to follow.
Nevertheless there is a good case for some reduction in the tariffs, which have become an investment vehicle as much as an incentive to install renewables. Over subsidy reduces the incentive to drive down costs and risks turning public support. Costs of PV are falling rapidly due to demand and smart, flexible firms are already finding ways to reduce installation costs. Early indications are that both small residential systems, using the feed-in tariff, and large solar farms, using the Renewables Obligation, can soon become viable at the reduced tariff levels. Installed in the right place, they will be able to attract a sufficient return.
The handling of the situation may have scared some investors away but the solar industry is maturing and after a brief hiatus, will continue to grow.
Raphael Sibille, LDA Design
Show and tell
Regarding your story “No marketing restriction ‘just needs imagination’” (2 February, www.building.co.uk), I would like to add weight to the argument of others against the marketing restrictions imposed on suppliers to the Olympic project. My company was the first on the site, starting the site investigation and it was an excellent project for us. However the ban on PR of any kind in the early days was total - we were even told to remove a small news item on our website. Sir John Armitt does not seem to understand: it is nothing to do with using the rings or logo but a simple desire to demonstrate one’s pride in being involved in the project and for showcasing British engineering and construction skills.
David Harrison, chairman, Harrison Group Environmental, via www.building.co.uk
One plan, so many questions
In reference to your story, “Government unveils energy efficiency plans” (31 January, www.building.co.uk), are people simply not going to get the work done if they think they will be forced to do other work that they cannot afford? Will they simply not apply for Building Regulations approval to avoid having to take on the extra work? What is meant by consequential works? What is defined as primary works? How do you measure energy efficiency? How do you define and prove cost effectiveness?
What is meant by value of primary works? What will be the cost of policing this ie who will check that the loft has been insulated when the new boiler has gone in? Who will the customer have to go to to design the amount/type specification for the insulation that is required to be installed? The plumber or heating contractor that fits the boiler?
Rod McLennan, via www.building.co.uk