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Renewable Energy – is it beginning to run on empty?

Written by Jon Rimmer

Last year didn’t end brightly, and despite what’s happening in other countries, 2016 could see the beginning of the dark ages for renewable energy projects in the UK.

As if the changes in feed-in tariffs weren’t enough, the Government now appears to be taking a dim view of solar farms: since last November, it has dismissed a series of appeals with a combined capacity of nearly 100MW, according to Planning magazine.

Communities secretary, and MP for Tunbridge Wells, Greg Clark backed
 the recommendations of his planning inspectors, concluding they were either inappropriate for the green belt and/
or there was insufficient justification for developing the schemes on high-quality agricultural land.

So far, 2016 has been an unhappy time for promoters of solar farms. Our view is that with the withdrawal of government subsidies for renewable energy, the number of applications for solar farms
on non-brownfield sites could become as rare as hen’s teeth.

It’s not all bad news though. Late last year one of our solar farm clients received the good news our appeal had been successful.

As a result a 10MW solar farm is under construction on 25 hectares of low-level grade 3 agricultural land near Sellindge, Kent.

The Hobbs Parker team successfully persuaded the Planning Inspector there were no other sites available within Ashford or Shepway on brownfield or low quality farmland. The issue of the array’s impact on the local landscape was also rejected, leading the Inspector to grant the appeal.

The new solar farm should be connected to the grid by 31st March, ahead of
the Government deadline to close the Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to all solar projects, both rooftop and ground-mounted schemes.

If onshore wind is off the agenda, then what will be the next big thing when
it comes to renewables? Elon Musk, billionaire founder of the all-electric Tesla Motors, is putting his financial weight behind battery storage technologies.

The team at Hobbs Parker has already held discussions with a number of battery storage companies eager to secure 
sites near London and close to the all- important grid connections.

Contact: Jon Rimmer, 01233 506270

 

  • This article was first published in the Spring 2016 edition of our quarterly newsletter Outlook
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