Pay higher feed in tariff rate to all new homes with photovoltaic (solar) panels

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Feed in tariff (FIT) rules discriminate against new build properties designed with solar photovoltaic panels

Fitting photovoltaic arrays (solar panels) while new properties are being built is one of the most efficient ways to generate renewable electricity, reduce greenhouse gases, build zero-carbon homes and meet climate and energy targets.

However, the current rules mean that homeowners like us cannot get the higher feed in tariff rate unless they have an energy performance certificate (EPC) dated before the solar panels were commissioned. This is impossible to achieve for a new-build property that was designed to have solar panels as an integrated part of the house: whenever solar panels form part of the compliance for building regulations, the MCS certificate showing that the solar panels have been commissioned will need to be provided before an EPC can be produced. Since the EPC is therefore dated after the panels were commissioned, the owners of new build properties designed with solar panels get the same, lower, FIT as an inefficient property rated at E, F or G.

By contrast, the current building regulations (and the previous set of building regulations) ensure that all new properties that are built to these regulations are energy-efficient and will achieve a rating of A, B, C or D even without taking account of their solar panels. Properties achieving level I or greater on the Code for Sustainable Homes will have exceeded the energy efficiency required by current building regulations and will therefore achieve an even better EPC rating. All new properties built to the current building regulations and those achieving level 1-6 on the Code for Sustainable Homes should therefore automatically be eligible for the higher feed in tariff, regardless of their EPC date.

The current rules greatly reduce the incentives for developers and self-builders to include solar panels on new properties, making it more difficult to achieve energy security, cut greenhouse gas emissions and generate renewable energy. Furthermore, the current rules are unfair and mean that the owners of new properties built with solar panels receive lower payments than the owners of older properties that had panels added after construction, despite the fact that the new properties are likely to be more energy-efficient.

We therefore urge the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to change the rules on FIT, such that all new properties (including properties that have already registered for FIT) that were designed with photovoltaic arrays and meet the current building regulations and/or achieved level 1-6 on the Code for Sustainable Homes automatically receive the higher rate, which more accurately reflects their energy efficiency.

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