Ofgem has sought to reassure solar farm owners that it will not withdraw accreditation to subsidy schemes without having a good reason to do so as it continues to work on guidance for co-locating energy storage assets with solar.
In September the regulator made the ‘game changer’ decision to allow solar developments to retain their accreditation under the Renewables Obligation (RO) when supplying electricity to batteries, after Anesco revealed it had done so at three of its 5MW sites.
However, Ofgem was not ready to publish any guidance to the rest of the sector on how this could be achieved while Anesco, which intended to approach investors on its 101-strong portfolio of solar farms, said it would not be publishing its own methodology.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Solar Trade Association (STA) Market Access and Systems Integration conference, Luke Hargreaves, head of renewables at Ofgem, revealed that the guidance was intended to be published this month.
But the regulator has run into issues in allowing sites to retain RO and FiT accreditation due to the absence of energy storage from the legislation.
“The legislative framework for both the FiT and the RO do not make any reference whatsoever to storage. We have the same tools to work with as industry; we do not know the answers. In the vast majority of cases where our team has made decisions and established precedents, we’ve put them into our guidance documents…but very few decisions have been made,” he said.
“The guidance was meant to be out this month…it isn’t straightforward because of the absence of clarity in the statute.”
In the absence of this guidance, Hargreaves added that Ofgem would not seek to revoke accreditation as a first response, instead hoping to work with the sector to reach beneficial conclusions.
“I know there is a lot of nervousness around Ofgem making a determination such that accreditation could be whipped away from you. The legislation makes prescription that for the FiT and RO the authority may withdraw an accreditation but then it goes on to say why in certain circumstances, so we can’t invent eligibility hurdles,” he said.
“If we’re going to take an accreditation away we must have a reason for that. It is a very big decision for us to make as understandably it is laden with legal risk. It’s not a light-touch decision, it’s not one that we make very often at all.”
“We certainly in the context of administering schemes are not here as a block. We operate within the legislative framework and we have to make certain decisions and those decisions can only be made based on [what’s in] the statute,” he added.
Ofgem will be attending a roud table discussion on co-location with renewable generation on Monday (13 November), hosted by the STA, to gain further feedback and grow its guidance further. The regulator told SPP the document will be released before Christmas but was unable to offer more specific information around the publication.