July 8 (SeeNews) - UK's Solar Trade Association (STA) this week called on the government to step in to prevent a large increase in business rates for commercial rooftop solar that could send some systems into negative returns.
The trade body has found that business rates taxes on commercial solar will go up by between six and eight times as of April 2017, unless the government intervenes. This is because of a wider re-evaluation of business rates that is carried out every five to seven years. The issue is that the "rateable value" that will come into force for rooftop solar bear little relation to the revenue generated by the installations but are instead based on fixed assumptions about capital costs of installation, the STA said.
"This is a huge increase in the running costs of a rooftop solar installation that will affect both existing and new projects. In some cases, it would actually send installations into negative returns: you would be spending more on the system in tax and maintenance than you would be getting back from the sale of the power and the Feed-in Tariff support," commented STA chief executive Paul Barwell.
The change does not affect households, but only businesses that have solar on their roof, where they themselves own the system and have installed it with a view to using most of the power themselves, the organisation said. Public authorities, schools and community buildings with rooftop solar systems could also be affected, although there are exemptions such as for some agricultural buildings as well as some small business exemptions, according to the announcement.