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Archive for the ‘solar power’ Category

feed in tariff reduction – why it aint all bad


Like most companies that have invested heavily in the growth of our companies on the back of the feed in tariff, I was left reeling at the cut announced last Monday.

Having now had time to reflect I dont think that the cut is all bad and I would like to explain why.

Investors were making fortunes from free solar schemes. They need to be stopped before the energy bills of everyone get out of control to pay them the feed in tariff.

It didnt matter whether your roof was East, West, or even behind a tree, an installation could still earn you in excess of 10% ROI. The aim of solar panels should primarily be to generate electricity and reduce the bills of the householder and the carbon footprint of the nation. Therefore they should be only reccommended to people with appropriate roof tops.

At 21p, you will see a decent return – provided your rooftop is appropriate. This will ensure surveys are carried out by competent engineers and not by commission based salesman looking to make a quick buck.

Solar Panels have come down in price, but not enough – suppliers are still charging excessive prices to installers for the hardware and competition has forced installers to accept minimal margins, which cannot be squeezed any further. Suppliers will have to reduce their prices if they are expecting to sell any panels. This is good for the industry. The current prices put solar panels out of the reach of too many people.

On the back of this price reduction (which has been proven in foreign markets on the back of Feed in tariff reductions) then customers with appropriate rooftops can expect to earn 10% returns and generate attractive reductions in their rising electricity bills.

In Summary – this reduction will get rid of the bad eggs:
– Commission based salesmen
– Free solar schemes
– Inefficient installations
– Overcharging by suppliers

But… The deadline set by the government is a problem and has caused a gold rush from people who have accelerated their plans to install solar. Cancelled orders will cause job losses in the industry, more warning from the governement would have allowed people to adjust the business plans to cope.

Asking people to achieve an EPC rating of a C to recieve the Feed in Tariff is non-sensical. The EPC refers to heat efficiency, and the generation and use of solar electricity by the property is not a factor. This should be removed so that properties which do not have cavity walls and cannot achieve a C can still benefit from energy efficiency measures – otherwise we might as well knock down every house of a certain age and re-build.

The Government must:
– Reconsider the cut off point for domestic, owner occupied installations. (keep the deadline for free solar schemes)
– Remove the need to achieve an EPC rating of C.
– Put pressure on suppliers to reduce their prices.

Comments as always welcome



What you should know before installing solar panels at home

I am writing this blog because of some of the bad practice i have heard about in the solar installation industry, however i should point out that the majority of installers are reputable and will do a great job, but there are some simple checks you can do by asking the right questions to make sure your installer is one of them.

Installing solar power should be a big decision and should be carefully considered. You should get all of the information you need before making this decision and certainly before parting with any cash.

Firstly any installer or surveyor should visit you in your home before giving you a quotation. Looking on google earth is not a substitute for this.

Your surveyor should ensure that you are fully informed about the feed in tariff scheme and how it works. You can only apply for the feed in tariff scheme if your installer is microgeneration certification scheme qualified – you should ask to see their certificate to prove this. Other certificates you should ask for are: their REAL assurance scheme membership, this will ensure that they protect the deposit that you pay by insuring it, so if they go out of business you will not lose your money. You should also ask for their public liability insurance certificate. Any installers who have an excuse for not presenting any of these 3 documents should be avoided.

Your installer should also cover the following by carefully measuring – not by looking and having a guess.

Which roof: it is not always obvious which roof you should install your panels on, for example your roof may face east and west with no obvious south facing aspect. So do you use east or west? This depends on several aspects: slope, horizon, shading, geograhical location. All should be considered and your installer should be able to justify and quantify which roof is the best. Ask for their reasoning and why they. Recommending the roof.

System size: do you want the maximum size system that you can fit? If so thats fine. If your installer recommends a system larger than 3.6 kilowatts, you should question whether your district network operator will allow this and get written proof from them before proceeding.

Shading: shading is a crucial consideration and should be carefully measured and worked out for any system. Any direct shading, such as by a chimney can have a massive impact on the output of your solar array.

Returns: before paying any deposit your installer should forecast the energy generation and therefo financial returns you can expect. In this calculation they should factor in all of the measurements above, ask to see their logic and method in performing this calculation. It should make sense and the installer should sound like they know what they are talking about.

Is your installer providing any other services? What is their aftercare, maintenance? How does your warranty work? How do you get on the feed in tariff scheme? Do you need to apply for planning permission?

If your installer can answer all of these then the are probably worth their salt.

Solar panels do work, they do pay back, you will make a profit and you will be very happy that you made the decision to switch to solar. Provided a good job is done by your installer.

Good Luck

Colin Robinson
CEO Energy Friend.


Truth about domestic solar panel installations

I have had anpther great week here at Energy Friend, telling people the truth about solar power and how it could benefit them. Take Mr and Mrs anon for example who have just installed solar panels 1 year after their first child was born. Not only is this lovely bundle of joy going to grow up in an energy efficient house, his clever parents are ploughing all of the feed in tariff money into a savings account for him. Soon he’ll be off to University with around £30,000 of tax free, cash behind him thanks to solar panels and the feed in tariff.

This is a great thing for them and could be for many others, but unfortunately i have been frustrated this week by items in the press, here are just some of the myths i have heard this week and that just arent true.

“You get 43p per unit for pumping electricity back into the grid”

This is not true. You actually get 46p per unit for pumping it back into the grid. You get 43p for generating the unit. You will hopefully use that unit in your house, which of course means a saving on your energy bill. You are encouraged to use the energy you generate. If you do, you will have cheaper bills and get a great tax free return paid into your bank.

“If you want the feed in tariff you need to beat the August 1st deadline”

This deadline is for large systems, such as fields or warehouses. The reason for the cut to the feed in tariff for large systems is to preserve the scheme for small domestic installations.

What will effect the energy generated by my solar power installation


Sorry, I wrote a really long blog about this and then added the image and all the text disappeared!!! using ipad app to do wordpress. I will update this with the correct content when I have some free time. Apologies for the confusion here!