As a result of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), Ofgem yesterday, 5th January 2011, began to publish large quantities of information relating to the installation of Feed-In Tariff (FiT) generators.(1)
REF applauds Ofgem's prompt response to their FOI request (full details Appendix 1) and their plan to update this invaluable database on a quarterly basis.
Yesterday’s data publication allows the general public for the first time to see data on every single FiT registered generator, including general location (postcode area, region, country), technology type, capacity, and many other technical points of importance to analysts.
However, it has transpired that due to government’s design of the FiT legislation Ofgem is unable to determine how much electrical energy is actually being produced by any of these generators.
REF asked "We also seek confirmation or otherwise that Ofgem does not hold the kWh generated by each individual FIT-registered installation." Ofgem replied: "Ofgem does not hold this data."
FiT generators are very heavily subsidised, and Government's own Regulatory Impact Assessments show that the FiT scheme will have a total lifetime cost to the general electricity consumer of over £8bn pounds, with very small compensating benefits (technically the Net Present Value is negative £8.2bn, i.e. is a cost to the public as distinct from a benefit (2).
REF believes it is extraordinary, that Ofgem has not been empowered to collect actual generation data to ensure that this very large transfer of wealth encourages optimal development of microgeneration rather than going to waste. Lack of this data also makes fraud monitoring difficult or impossible.
In fact, government, the regulator and the general public have no means of assessing the effectiveness of the FiT expenditure. In an age of inexpensive telemetric monitoring this is inexcusable.
Dr Lee Moroney, REF's principal data analyst, said: "Good data is essential for public accountability. Ofgem are clearly doing what they can, and we applaud their efforts in releasing this new FiTs information , but the key data related to the actual performance of the individual renewable technologies is missing. In order to protect the consumer interest, this has got to change."