UNSW School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering
Implementation of feed-in tariff policy for solar microgeneration in Great Britain: Policy evaluation and capacity projections using a realistic agent-based model
Phoebe Pearce - Imperial College London

Phoebe Pearce, at UNSW SPREE, 19 February 2018

Phoebe Pearce (57Min)

Imperial College London

Phoebe Pearce speaks at UNSW SPREE


Since 2010, over 700,000 small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have been installed by households in Great Britain and registered under the feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme. This work introduces a new agent-based model which simulates this adoption by considering decision-making of individual households based on household income, social network, total capital cost of the PV system, and the payback period of the investment, where the final factor takes into account the economic effect of FiTs. The model is calibrated using Approximate Bayesian Computation, and successfully simulates observed cumulative and average capacity installed over the period 2010–2016 using historically accurate FiTs. Setting different tariffs allows investigation of alternative policy scenarios. Model results show that using simple cost control measures, more installation by October 2016 could have been achieved at lower subsidy cost. The total cost of supporting capacity installed during the period 2010–2016, totalling 2.4GW, is predicted to be £14 billion, and costs to consumers significantly exceed predictions. The model is further used to project capacity installed up to 2022 for several PV cost, electricity price, and FiT policy scenarios, showing that current tariffs are too low to significantly impact adoption, and falling PV costs are the most important driver of installation.

Paper: P. Pearce and R. Slade, “Feed-in tariffs for solar microgeneration: Policy evaluation and capacity projections using a realistic agent-based model,” Energy Policy, vol. 116, pp. 95–111, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2018.01.060

Code: github.com/phoebe-p/FiTABM

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Brief Bio

Phoebe received a BA and MSci degree in Experimental and Theoretical Physics from the University of Cambridge in 2015, with a final-year thesis on light-induced instability in perovskites. In 2016, she completed an MSc degree at Imperial College London on the topic of sustainable energy, with a research project focusing on modelling the effectiveness of feed-in tariffs to support residential PV systems in the UK. Since 2016, she has been a PhD student in the Quantum Photovoltaics group in the Department of Physics at Imperial, working on novel materials and architectures for use in III-V-based solar cells through both experimental and modelling approaches.