Renewables

The UK Government’s FIT coronavirus extensions offer welcome protection to pre-accredited projects in construction but don’t cover a number of hydro schemes.

This week the UK Government passed The Feed-in Tariffs (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order 2020.  It came into force on 31 March 2020.

The order extends the deadlines for applications for accreditation under the FIT scheme for certain projects.  Essentially, a 6 month extension is provided to MCS schemes pre-registered between 1 March 2019 and 31 March 2019 and ROO-FIT installations whose pre- accreditation validity period runs out between 1 March and 30 September 2020.  There are no conditions attached to these extensions so projects do not have to prove that delays are due to COVID19.

This is welcome news for projects fast approaching commissioning deadlines.  However, not all pre-accredited projects in construction are covered.

The last opportunity to pre-accredit ROO-FIT schemes was 31 March 2019.  Therefore, the majority of pre-accredited projects not yet commissioned will have a pre-accreditation validity period that ends in the March – September 2020 window.

Unfortunately that is not true for a number of hydro projects.  Due to the longer construction phase for hydro, there will be many pre-accredited projects with a pre-accreditation validity period ending in March 2021 or potentially September 2021 for community schemes.

Hydro schemes have a longer pre-accreditation validity period simply because they take longer to build than other projects.  For projects that need to be completed by March 2021, a delay to construction now will still impact their ability to commission on time.  It may not be possible to accelerate programmes enough once workers get back on site and supply chains return to normal.

Industry sources report that BEIS is sympathetic to extensions for schemes with longer deadlines.  However, no information has been given on the timescales for addressing these or what form those extensions may take.  Until we know what might be proposed developers should keep records of the impact of COVID19 on their ability to meet their commissioning deadlines in case this is required for any future grace periods.

 

Sarah-Jane McArthur