Guernsey Press

Transition to renewables has to be a partnership, says solar firm

A local solar energy company has said it would not support a rise in the ‘feed-in’ tariff for owners of solar panels.

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Simon de la Rue is head of sales at the Little Green Energy Company. (33407151)

The feed-in tariff, what Guernsey Electricity will pay those householders generating their own electricity, has remained at 9.9p per unit since 2012.

Simon de la Rue, head of sales at the Little Green Energy Company, said that increasing the tariff would have consequences for everyone.

‘Ultimately that is going to be paid for by GEL,’ he said.

‘So as a community, are we going to be better off with that? I’m not sure.

‘But with electricity prices rising all the time, the payback that a owner of solar panels is going to continue to get shorter and shorter.’

The 9.9p offered by Guernsey Electricity is higher than the feed-in tariff paid in Jersey and the Isle of Man.

A nationwide feed-in tariff in the UK ended in 2019 with energy companies setting their own tariffs which are generally below 9.9p.

Mr de la Rue said he expected that the price of electricity in Guernsey would continue to rise, but islanders could address this by investing in solar and battery technology.

‘The electricity tariff has gone up year-on-year for the last three years,’ said Mr de la Rue, ‘and it certainly sounds like it will continue in that trajectory.

‘While a higher price per unit may be unavoidable, that does not mean that nothing can be done to reduce the impact, both on larger and smaller scales.’

Guernsey Electricity increased tariffs for residents and businesses by 10% at the start of this month, on top of recent increases of 9% and 13%.

In its latest report, CEO Alan Bates said that GEL’s customers had previously been protected from a period of wholesale price volatility caused by the war in Ukraine, due to a previously-agreed fixed import price with French generator EDF.

‘The market saw prices climb to many thousands of euros per megawatt hour for short periods and generally significantly higher than preceding years,’ he said.

‘If the forward price fixing hadn’t been in place, GEL’s customers would have seen an almost doubling of tariffs.’

Little Green Energy has been working alongside GEL to install large solar arrays at Ladies’ College, GEL’s own building on North Side, the rebuilt offices of Grow Limited and the Post Office headquarters in Le Vrangue.

‘I think what one should be taking away from the annual report is that the transition to renewables really has to be done as a collaboration and in partnership with GEL,’ said Mr de la Rue.

‘We all need the grid. And we will always need electricity network to be there and to be supported through the appropriate tariff rebalancing and structuring that they’re doing at the moment. It’s through that sort of collaboration between public and private entities that we can achieve the targets set out in the Electricity Strategy.’

The Electricity Strategy agreed by the States last September has targets of achieving 5MW of renewable energy by 2025 and 10MW by 2028.

However, the latest report stated that solar power generation currently contributes just 0.2% of the island’s annual electricity requirements.

Mr de la Rue added that the report also highlighted that maximum demand, and the annual consumption of electricity, will continue to increase.