The Department for Energy and Climate Change (‘DECC’) have opened up a consultation aimed at a significant increase in mid-scale commercial/industrial building mounted solar panels.
Understandably, tenants of industrial and commercial buildings may have considerable reluctance in investing in solar power sited on the roof of the building they are renting, not least as (generally speaking) they will not have a lease for the full 20 year term for which they would be entitled to the corresponding subsidy.
Similarly, freeholders might need to relocate during that 20 year period anyway. Moreover, solar panels are unlikely to be on the top of the agenda for many small and medium sized businesses, even if they have become higher profile of late with significant manufacturers such as Bentley drawing a substantial amount of power from their rooftop panels.
The consultation is therefore aimed at injecting some flexibility into the present subsidy scheme and increasing the attractiveness of such investments. This will not include small schemes of less than 50kW, given the administration costs.
As you might anticipate, the DECC proposals come with lots of conditions attached and it remains to be seen whether the owners and occupiers of commercial property the scheme is aimed at respond as hoped, given there will still be a good deal of ‘red tape’ associated with it. Nonetheless, a consultation is undoubtedly a step in the right direction and reflects the Government’s stated aim to cut the incentives for greenfield/farmland solar parks and point the subsidy in the direction of commercial rooftop installations.
The consultation will close on 5 January 2015.
Scott Mitchell is a Partner with over 20 years’ experience of commercial and industrial property, including renewable energy installations for farmers and landowners.