The call comes as Friends of the Earth launched a new report by independent experts ARUP, which shows that cash-strapped councils, schools, households and businesses can make a guaranteed income and reduce fuel bills by generating electricity from small scale renewable energy systems, such as solar panels, under the feed-in tariff scheme, which was introduced with all-party support earlier this year.
The new report is the first in-depth look at the financial performance of a wide range of local renewable electricity projects using the new feed-in tariffs (FITs) and proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
The report uses ARUP’s financial modelling to show that councils (as well as communities and local businesses) that harness wind, sun and food waste to generate clean energy can, in the right circumstances, enjoy an attractive return on their investment – making money to help fund vital services and energy efficiency programmes like insulating homes.
For example, a community co-operative that buys a 1.5MW wind turbine (enough to power 1,000 homes) could earn 15.9 per cent return on investment annually for 20 years. The scheme would pay for itself in just seven years.
And fitting 8KW solar PV panels on a community centre could generate 11.5 per cent annual interest for 25 years, with the scheme paying for itself in around eight years.
The report also shows a school could earn almost £8,000 a year by putting up a 15-metre tall wind turbine on its playing fields, while a housing association could earn more than £7,500 a year by installing 20KW solar panels on a small block of flats.
However, a few schemes performed less well, indicating areas where the scheme might need improving in the future.
Friends of the Earth’s Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett said:
"Chris Huhne must stand firm and allow councils, communities and businesses to benefit from green energy revolution.
"It’s absurd that the Treasury is even reviewing feed-in tariff payments because the scheme isn’t financed by taxpayers, and there is already a planned review in two years time.
"This new research shows the scheme will allow everyone to benefit from renewable energy – from people living in social housing powered by the sun to children learning in classrooms lit by a wind turbine. These benefits are threatened by this Treasury review.
"We hope that as many people as possible across the UK take advantage of this scheme to invest in renewable electricity projects – with oil supplies dwindling and fuel prices rocketing, the UK urgently needs to generate more green energy."
ARUP’s Director Mark Watts said:
"Our report shows that feed-in tariffs now make many renewable technologies an attractive investment for a wide range of public and private sector groups who were previously excluded from the renewable energy market.
"The chief benefit of the feed-in tariff and proposed Renewable Heat Incentive is offering investors the certainty of a long-term commercial return – but it will only be possible to judge how much of an incentive it provides after a year or two of operation.
"Investor confidence is likely to be severely damaged if there are any unanticipated changes to the tariff scheme in the meantime."
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