Sunday, 13 February 2011

FIT for purpose?

This week, the UK’s Energy Secretary Chris Huhne announced a comprehensive review of the Feed in Tariffs (FITs) scheme “following growing evidence that large-scale solar farms could soak up money intended to help homes, communities and small businesses generate their own electricity.”
Feed-in-tariff system (inherited from the previous Labour government), is a curious affair, particularly if one considers that the primary goal of such instruments is arguably incentivising the installation of renewable technology that will produce the greatest amount of clean, low-carbon power at the lowest possible price. Under the current arrangements the greater the capacity installed for any one project, the lower the feed-in-tariff. Furthermore, photovoltaic systems get preferential subsidies to wind turbines, particularly at the higher end of the scale in terms of generating capacity. A 5MW solar farm would, in the first year of the scheme, receive 29.3p/kWh over a 25 year period, while a 5MW wind farm would be receiving just 4.5p/kWh over a 20 year period. The scheme has GBP360m allocated to it, making it something of a zero-sum game for the various technologies positioned to take advantage of it.

full article

Is investing in on-farm solar power worthwhile?

Glastonbury festival’s Michael Eavis has become the UK’s first farmer to install a large solar array on the roof of a cow shed. Many others are queuing up to follow his lead, but how beneficial is this technology, and is the large capital outlay it requires really worthwhile?
With a £500,000 loan over 10 years from Triodos Bank, and £70,000 of his own capital, Mr Eavis visited a solar panel factory in Durham to learn about the technology and negotiate on price.
The 1,116 panels, weighing about 25 tonnes, were fitted to the roof of the 1,500sq.m barn, and are capable of producing 200kW per hour - enough to power 40 homes annually.
“We should be generating £50,000 of electricity a year - it will pay back within 10 or 12 years.”

About 40 per cent of the electricity would be used on the farm, with the remainder exported to the National Grid.

“There is a lot of form-filling to export to the grid - they treat it like a nuclear power station,” says Mr Eavis. He also had to upgrade the farm’s transformer to cope with the extra load, at a cost of £50,000.
Anyone considering installing solar PV should get an independent performance appraisal for the site to get an accurate forecast of productivity.

A grid survey by the electricity supplier, at a cost of about £1,000, would reveal whether upgrades to the network - costing £100,000s - may be required.

In-field solar arrays may also need extra security, and could change the land use away from agriculture, says Dan Davies from SolarCentury. Large installations up to 5mW would probably require backing from an investor. A variety of agreements are available.

Most small installations will not require planning permission, but in-field arrays may do.

Take advice from your local planning authority, and consult with neighbours and local stakeholders to ensure you have their support before you start.

Feed-in Tariff Income could be tax-free for individuals, but business rates are likely to be payable on any installation, while in-field arrays could reduce the Single Farm Payment and eligibility for agricultural tax reliefs.

full article

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Huhne takes action on solar farm threat

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has launched a review of the Feed in Tariffs (FITs) scheme following growing evidence that large scale solar farms could soak up money intended to help homes, communities and small businesses generate their own electricity.
More than 21,000 installations have been registered to date. The vast majority of these are domestic installations, including solar panels, wind turbines and microhydro plants.
“Large scale solar installations weren’t anticipated under the FITs scheme we inherited and I’m concerned this could mean that money meant for people who want to produce their own green electricity has the potential to be directed towards large scale commercial solar projects.”
full article

Sunday, 6 February 2011

UK Feed-In Tariff Enjoys Early Success

A recent report has revealed that, since its introduction in April 2010, the United Kingdom's renewable energy feed-in tariff has enjoyed record levels of success.

The latest official figures published by UK energy regulator Ofgem (PDF) show that an impressive 15,468 installations have registered to take part during the first six months.

The scheme, designed to promote the uptake of small-scale renewable electricity generation, has already paid out more than £2.5 million (around US $4 million) to applicants – with the subsidies proving particularly popular in the solar PV sector, which has accounted for the lion’s share (around 60%) of participants to date.
“What makes it especially attractive now is that, with the guaranteed rate of return [offered] by the FiT, you can sit down with a calculator and figure out roughly when the investment will pay for itself,”
However, amid a climate of global financial austerity, similar FiT schemes are being gradually reduced across Europe. In this light, it is perhaps likely that the UK will follow other countries, notably Germany and Spain, in scaling-back subsidies.
“The key in phasing out FiTs – along with subsidies for conventional energy, which the International Energy Agency estimates far exceed renewables subsidies worldwide – is a gradual reduction in subsidies, to avoid any sudden shocks that would send investors fleeing, and to avoid retroactive cuts,”
full article

Friday, 4 February 2011

Now Is The Best Time To Compare Domestic Energy Prices

Energy firm EDF became the last of the big six to unveil inflation busting price rises yesterday.Millions of customers with EDF Energy have been warned of rises in gas and electricity tariffs that are expected to add £72 to average annual bills,electricity prices jump by 7.5% and gas by 6.5%.Unlike most of its rivals, EDF has waited to push up tariffs until the worst of the winter is over. Tariffs will rise from March 2.

Now this round of price increases has been completed consumers should be able to enjoy a period of stability.
"This means that it is an excellent time to shop around for a better deal, potentially saving up to £458, which would wipe the effect of price increases out and put money in the pocket ready for next winter.