Last week YouGen’s blog ran an article following a meeting between the Energy Minister and various representatives of the photovoltaic solar industry.
The purpose was to discuss the implications of the Governments spending review on the feed-in tariff scheme, which has so far helped contribute to over 10,000 solar panel installations in 2010.
You can click here to read the full article yourself but I did want to pick out one or two choice bits.
Firstly, that the Government is now saying (worryingly so) that the so-called solar farms which have started to spring up with investors attracted by the lucrative feed-in tariffs may in the future have to be exempt from the tariff system, which was originally designed with private individuals in mind.
As the Government pointed out, there is a finite amount of money available for the scheme and it may have to protect that figure for take up by private residential individuals at the expense of large scale installations (or there could be restrictions for qualification based on overall output etc).
Secondly, that because the ‘pot’ of funding has been reduced, future tariff changes may have to more severe, again, dependent on uptake.
The only good bit of news was that no cuts would be applied retrospectively, so if you’re thinking of getting solar panels installed, then now is the time to act.
photo credit: d’arcy norman
Of course installing some form of renewable energy on your home is going to contribute to the reduction in harmful co2 emissions, but whether you’re looking to be totally self-sufficient or not, installing solar panels onto your home has a number of tangible benefits.
Solar energy is ‘free’ so once you’ve paid for the installation, aside from any maintenance costs, every watt of electricity is free. With most systems presently lasting well beyond their 25 year lifespan (some by as much as 10 years), that leaves plenty of free energy years.
Reducing your running costs – Solar energy can drastically reduce your everyday energy bills, depending on the size of system you have installed, and in some cases, a large installation can generate surplus electricity that you can sell back to the grid.
Making your home self sufficient – where previously, you’d have suffered the same power losses as everyone else when there was a power cut, now you’re generating your own – you’ll soon be the envy of the neighbours.
Making difficult new builds easier – If you’re renovating an old barn or cottage that’s not connected to the mains, it’s a very expensive job to have the correct power delivery cable hooked up and laid by the appropriate energy companies. By exploring solar energy (or other renewable energies) for your project, you may actually be able to reduce building costs, whilst still having the benefit of being self sufficient.
Making your home more attractive to new buyers – There’s no doubt that renewable energy is here to stay, so fitting solar panels on your home, will one day in the future probably contribute to it’s selling price or make it easier to sell. It’s a bit like double glazing, when the jobs already been done, it’s one of those ‘big jobs’ house buyers can tick off the to-do list.
We’ve even seen some reports that suggest fitting solar panels helps protect your roof. We haven’t seen anything to quantify such a claim, but it’s true that adding solar panels does add another ‘layer’ between the weather and your roof.
Photovoltaic (electricity producing) solar energy works by light, not sunshine, so even on cloudy days, your system will generate some power.
And with the Government not cutting the Feed-in Tariffs and confirming the planned go-ahead of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, it looks like micro-generators have escaped last weeks cuts, making generating your own electricity and hot water as attractive a proposition as it ever was.
photo credit: clownfish
photo credit: david fulmer
According to a report by Renewable Energy Focus last week, there’s mounting speculation that despite the weeks earlier comments from Energy Secretary Chris Hulme at the Tory Party Conference, the Treasury will force cuts to the feed-in tariffs upon the Department for Energy and Climate Control.
The tariffs were set up this April (2010) and at the time were guaranteed until 31st March 2013, before the figures would be amended. Cuts would normally have been based on available funds and a hoped for decrease in the cost of manufacturing etc.
It’s got the industry so worried that 64 top business leaders have written an open letter to westminster, claiming that any bringing forward of cuts to the feed-in tariffs will seriously dent investors confidence in the UK and would lead to the UK being unable to meet its carbon reduction targets.
“confidence in the clean tech and renewable energy sectors may cause investors to flee altogether”
Any reduction if feed-in tariffs only affects those homeowners and businesses applying for the tariff after the date of any changes to rates – existing ‘members’ and users of the feed-in tariffs should continue to enjoy the rate at which they signed up to.
Read the full report from Renewable Energy Focus by clicking here.
I guess we’re all going to have to wait until the 20th October when the spending review is published.
photo credit: rizka budiati