Jason FordNews Editor

New Feed-in Tariff levels for large-scale solar energy installations come into effect today, with the tariffs being reduced in favour of smaller scale projects.

Critics have argued that the new levels will make all solar installations with over 50kW of capacity financially unviable.

New tariffs for large scale solar and anaerobic digestion under the government’s green electricity scheme were announced in June this year. 

The announcement from government followed a public consultation on large scale solar and anaerobic digestion, which closed on  May 6 2011.

According to DECC, the review looked at reducing the tariffs for large scale solar to protect the money available for small scale projects. The review was launched following initial evidence showing the number of large scale solar projects in the planning system to be much higher than anticipated.

Last week Toyota started generating solar powered energy at its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire and a community-funded solar power station opened in Lewes at the weekend, just in time to qualify for the feed-in tariff rate of 34p per kilowatt hour.

Non-profit energy services company Ovesco managed to raise the £307,000 installation cost from locals and investors to fund the Lewes Community Power Station.

The solar PV panels have been installed and connected to the grid via the warehouse roof of local business Harveys Brewery, which will use the electricity to power the brewery while surplus energy will be sold back to the grid.

Southern Solar, co-founders of Ovesco installed 544 solar PV panels to generate an estimated 92,000KWh per year.

According to Ovesco, the new FITs regime will reduce tariffs for community projects such as the one in Lewes 42 per cent.

‘Ovesco has developed the only community initiative to go live in time for the changes in government policy on solar,’ said Howard Johns, chair of Solar Trade Association and MD of Southern Solar. ‘This is devastating and frustrating for nearly 1,000 community projects across the UK.

‘Solar in the UK has the potential to become a major source of power generation and is the most accessible technology for community-owned energy solution companies.’

The 25-year subsidies are paid by energy suppliers for each unit of electricity generated.

From today new entrants into the FIT scheme will receive these amended tariffs for solar PV:

>50 kW – ≤ 150 kW Total Installed Capacity (TIC) - 19.0p/kWh

>150 kW – ≤ 250 kW TIC - 15.0p/ kWh

250 kW – 5 MW TIC and stand-alone installations - 8.5p/kWh

Winchester University’s Stripe Theatre is the venue for the first Student Conference on Complexity Science this week.

The conference has been designed to showcase the global challenges that the discipline tackles and the current work of complexity science PhD students.

According to the event’s publicity material, Lord Robert May will present his latest work with Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s executive director for financial stability, on how techniques pioneered to model complex biological ecosystems can be used to deal with systemic risk in financial “ecosystems” in order to avoid financial disasters.

In other news, tomorrow marks the deadline for entries in this year’s James Dyson Awards.

The brief is simply to “Design something that solves a problem” and is open to product design, industrial design, university level engineering students, or graduates who graduated with within the last four years.

Click here for full details.