Decision comes after government’s review of feed-in tarrifs

Tesco has put plans for huge banks of solar panels on several of its distribution centres on hold after the government this week failed to reassure a renewables industry shocked by its review of subsidies, according to sources.

The supermarket has been considering putting 1MW arrays of PV cells on about half a dozen distribution centres across the country, according to a source close to the process.

Several industry sources said the project is now “on hold” after the government’s surprise decision last week urgently to review feed-in tariff subsidies to renewable projects larger than 50kW, which could make Tesco’s plan uneconomical.

A Tesco spokesperson said that the project was not on hold as no firm decision had yet been taken to go ahead to install the solar panels.

“There is no truth in this story. We are still in the decision making process as to whether we will install solar panels at our distribution centres. We are fully committed to becoming zero carbon business by 2050 and continue to invest in new environmental technologies,” they said.

The energy and climate change department launched the review after fears that fields of PV cells were using up subsidy money intended for household panels.

The source close to the process said that the solar panels would have been completed in March 2012, and the supermarket had been due to go public with the plans in about two months.

On 10 February, climate change secretary Greg Barker sought to calm fears that the review, set to be published next month, would derail large solar panel projects on public and commercial buildings.

“It is not our intention to place draconian limits on those projects above 50 kW, particularly in relation to school and hospital schemes,” he said, in response to a question in parliament.

“However, there is a real problem with large solar fields, and that is our primary focus,” he continued.

Yet leading figures in renewable energy organisations and companies this week remained deeply concerned about the destabilising effect of the review.