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August 1 new deadline for FIT cuts

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 24th May 2012

Last week we announced that changes to the Feed-in-Tariff had been delayed due to recent low solar installation figures. It was first proposed that new cuts would come into force 1st July 2012. However due to the 40 days’ notice required by law to protect ‘unlawful’ moves from the government, we can now expect the cuts to come into play a month later than first expected. This delay could have been caused by a number of factors but consumer confidence and news that the UK has slipped back into recession are thought to be amongst the two main reasons.

Since the revision figures have been introduced, the total installation figures for solar PV have naturally declined. The official introduction of the 21p kWh rate saw the total number of PV installs decrease from a whopping 9,009 in the last week of March 2012 to just 859 in the first week of April. Now more than ever it is important to broadcast positive message to all and try to win back consumer confidence.

The new FIT rate, now announced to come into play August 1st 2012, will be 16p kWh for domestic homeowners. Furthermore, all tariffs will decrease on a three month basis, starting on October 1 and are set to decrease at a rate of 3.5% unless a 'rapid uptake occurs.'

Barker commented, "We can now look with confidence to a future for solar which will see it go from a small cottage industry, anticipated under the previous scheme, to playing a significant part in Britain's clean energy economy."

In addition to the newly introduced lower tariff, other revisions include:

Export tariff will be increased from 3.2p to 4.5p/kWh for those installations with an eligibility date on or after August 1;

The expect FIT lifetime will be now decrease from 25 to 20 years for those installations with an eligibility date on or after August 1; and

Tariffs for installations that do not meet the energy efficiency requirements will mirror the tariffs for standalone installations.

We can now expect a small boom in this 10 week window before the new rate comes into play but it should be enough to get the market going again.

 

Categories: decc, renewable energy, solar pv, feed-in-tariff

Breaking News: Supreme Court rejects government’s feed-in tariff solar appeal

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 23rd March 2012

BREAKING NEWS: The Supreme Court has today thrown out the government's appeal against a previous ruling that deemed its controversial changes to solar feed-in tariff (FIT) incentives as unlawful.

This ruling means that companies who installed panels between December 2011 and March 2012 will receive the high feed-in-tariff rate of 43.3p kWh instead of the 21p/kWh initially proposed by the government.

This long awaited decision finally closes the door on the drawn out saga generated by the government and highlights their ‘unlawful’ attempt to cut the feed-in-tariffs (FiT’s) at an unprecedented rate last year.

Even though the decision is one step forward for solar, fresh cuts are anticipated as the FiT’s will undoubtedly continue to exceed its budget this year allowing the government to bring out a second round of cuts to the incentive scheme.

"The extra money DECC will now have to commit leaves us with serious concerns about the remaining FIT budget, which remains constrained under the Levy Control Framework," said Paul Barwell, chief executive at the Solar Trade Association.

 

Categories: decc, government, solar pv, feed-in-tariff

FIT Update: The Current Position

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 30th January 2012

On Wednesday 25th January 2012 the DECC lost their appeal against the tariff rates and have since announced their intention for further appeal. The court of appeal haven’t yet granted the DECC permission for further appeal but they are seeking direct permission from the Supreme Court in which to do so.

Should they be granted leave to appeal and become successful it could take up to a year before the final outcome is known. This appeal could also mean that they will be able to legislate to apply new tariff from the 12th December reference date.

Oh the uncertainty.

This uncertainty of not being able to guarantee either tariff rate (reduced rate at 21p kwh or last year’s higher rate of 43.3p kwh) on installations made between 12 December 2011 and 3rd March 2012, means that installers cannot correctly promote their services and homeowners are less confident about installing panels when they are less certain about the return of investment.

Delaying the outcome of the case could cause further damage to the industry due to the negative hype they’re continuing to create. The government are very keen not to give away 43.3p kwh as they simply cannot afford it so are trying their best to put off other buyers & installers off solar for selfish reasons until the next consultation on 3rd March 2012.

In an announcement by the DECC and in their formal response to question 1 of the consultation they have however confirmed that tariff rates will be no lower than 21p kwh from 1st April 2012 even if they government win their appeal.

Homeowners should be jumping at the chance to get involved as they may potentially be eligible to receive the higher rate of 43.3p kWh should the government lose their appeal. They have already lost twice so it might just be worth the gamble.

imagesource@solarpowerportal

Categories: decc, government, feed-in-tariff

Government loses right to appeal FIT tariff ruling

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 25th January 2012

Towards the end of the year we blogged about how the government cuts to the feed in tariff had been ruled unlawful. At the time the government were not given leave to appeal but they then proceeded to do just that. However the Court of Appeal has today denied the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) a hearing for its appeal against the High Court’s ruling back in 2011

So what does this mean?

There is still some confusion about what happens now. Essentially the feed-in tariff will increase back to 43.3p for system installed on or before March 3, 2012. It also means that for many people who had solar PV systems installed since the original proposed cut off date of December 12, and those who intend to install systems before the March 3 cut-off point, will receive the higher feed-in tariff rates for the full 25 years. Installations completed and registered on or after March 3 will qualify for the current higher rate until April 1, at which point the rates will drop to 21p. **(See update below)

The decision is likely to lead to another period of frantic activity and installations for many in the industry. The original announcement was made back in November and provided just over 1 month for installers to complete their installations. As a result more PV installation were completed in November than for previous months in 2011.

Many in the industry see this decision as a victory for common sense and justice:

Daniel Green, CEO of HomeSun, said: “Four judges, including three in the Court of Appeal, have now called the Government’s actions illegal. That’s a four-nil victory and a decisive ruling that Government may not make retrospective changes to the FiT because, as Lord Justice Moses concludes, to do so ‘would be to take away an existing entitlement without statutory authority.’”

“Both this appeal and the Judicial Review in The High Court would not have been required had DECC simply followed its own process and allowed the industry, that it claims to support, time to prepare for a lower feed-in tariff,” continued Green.

It is right that the government be held accountable for their actions and the way in which rash decision and actions impact on industry. However what the industry really needs now and in the future is stability. Hopefully the ruling will help towards this. Greg Barker said it best when he tweeted:

“Win, lose or draw today, important we move forward together, drive down costs + step up deployment.”

This is and will be the key aim for the industry moving forwards.

**UPDATE: 12.30pm: The government within the last hour has confirmed they intend to appeal this decision. As such this again throws uncertainty over whether or not PV installations will qualify for the higher tariff despite the fact it is highly unlikely the government will win this appeal.

 

Categories: decc, government, feed-in-tariff

RHI - Open for Business

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 1st December 2011

Renewable Heat Incentive launches after being postponed in September 2011.

At long last the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is now open for business for non-domestic generators. The original launch was expected to go live on 30th September 2011 but was postponed at only 12 hours’ notice as it was established that the scheme may not wholly comply with EU State Aid rules.  The scheme has since been deemed compatible with said rules and after its passing in parliament and those looking to apply for the incentive can submit their applications from Monday 28th November.

Eligible candidates will be able to access payments on a quarterly basis for heat generated over the next 20 years. The scheme will generate payments from renewable technologies including biomass boilers, solar thermal equipment and heat pumps installer since July 2009.

The launch of the RHI is set to revolutionise the way heat is generated and is the first scheme of its type in the world and will be closely watched by others to see whether it can be successfully replicated elsewhere. The incentive scheme sits next to other government incentives like the solar Feed-in-Tariff and the expected Green Deal which is set to take off in October 2012.

At the launch on Monday Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister said:

“The RHI will usher in a new era in clean green heat technology.  It’s a world first and has the potential to put the UK at the forefront of a vibrant new green technology sector.

“Renewable heat will be a big win for our economy – it will support thousands of green jobs, reduce our dependency on imported fossil fuels, reduce our carbon emissions and help us meet our renewable target.”

Trade Skills 4U deliver quality solar thermal training for those looking to up skill into this industry and take advantage of the forecasted surge of installations eligible to receive RHI subsidies.

 

Categories: company news, decc, solar thermal, renewable energy

£200 million funding injection into Green Deal

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 24th November 2011

Today our ambitious government have announced a new funding scheme to help encourage the UK’s householder into making their home more energy efficient.

This scheme, called the Green Deal, will kick off in October 2012 with 200 million pounds worth of incentives to encourage homeowners to take out loans and invest in energy saving measures. The ‘golden rule’ is that the homeowner’s savings will be greater than the loan repayments.

The £200 million funding from the Treasury could be worth hundreds to those that take up the deal in the first year however how this incentive is actually being delivered is yet to                                                                                  be announced.  Discounts on council tax and cash back offers                                                                                  are amongst the few that have been mentioned at present.

This announcement also combined details of the eagerly awaited Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which will officially start next week. The launch of the first phase of the scheme was delayed due to EU state aid appeal but is now back on track and open for business. The RHI itself is an incentive scheme similar to the Solar PV Feed in Tariff (FIT), which was launched back in April 2010, where financial support is provided to individuals, communities and business for switching from using traditional fossil fuels for heating to renewable courses such as wood pellets using biomass boilers and water fuel using solar thermal technology.

Although it is obviously good news that the government are still investing big bucks into this industry, those that have been affected by the recent FIT cuts might be cautious of this new funding announcement. However there is one thing we can be sure of; where there are incentives there will be demand, when there is sufficient demand there may be revisions so it’s always best to get in first.

 

Categories: green deal, decc, government, solar pv

Calling All Solar PV Installers

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 2nd November 2011

Since the announcement of the Feed-in-tariff cuts on 31st October 2011, everyone is in an absolute rush to make sure their installation is completed before the deadline of 12th December 2011 in order to be eligible for the ‘old’ tariff rate of 43.3p kWh.

We’ve received so many calls as of late by some of our partners who specialise in solar PV installation proclaiming the urgency to get hold of installers so that they can implement as many installations as possible before the December deadline.

One of our partners said:

“Up until this announcement we were normally completing 17 installations a month, over the past two days we’ve done 20 installations!”

In order to do what we can we’ve done a mail shot to every installer that has completed wither BPEC solar PV installation course or the City & Guilds 2399 solar PV installation course with us and asked them to contact the following companies if they are looking for work.

If you are a solar PV installer and are looking for work: give the following companies a call as they are crying out for you.

RIG Energy Recruitment 

The Green Homes Company

JoJu Solar  

Enzon 

Keep an eye out for our jobs page as we are currently developing this to include both job opportunities as well as a skills swap exchange feature.

 

Categories: company news, decc, government, solar pv, feed-in-tariff

Changes to the Feed In Tariff’s and the Impact On Small Installers

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 1st November 2011

On the 31st of October a consultation document reviewing the Feed In Tariffs (FIT’s) was published. Since then there has been much speculation on the impact of the solar industry. In the document there are proposals to cut the feed in tariffs for a variety of installations. These are proposals only.

The reason for the change is due to the better than expected take up of solar panels which has subsequently reduced cost of the installation. Essentially the scheme has been too successful. With the cost of the panels and installation dropping so quickly the FIT tariff shone out as a not just a great option to go carbon neutral but also one of the best investment opportunities in the UK.

The tariff was always going to be reduced at regular intervals to keep them in line with the cost of installation, which will continue to decrease. So the fact that they are being cut comes as no surprise and makes perfect sense. The industry will still be subsidised and will still continue to grow. Minister of Energy and Climate Change Greg Barker defended the proposed cuts on Monday morning, saying: ‘Being sensible with tariffs means there will be more money to go round.’

Any installs for retro fit properties registered before the 12th of December will still be eligible to receive the 43.3p per kWh. Following this date homeowners will be subject to the lower tariff of 21p per kWh. However this is all to be confirmed on the 23rd December and could still be subject to change.

So what does this all mean for the installer?

It’s not bad news; in the long term; it’s good news.

We’ve no doubt the immediate reaction to this will be panic, but that should not be the reaction. The original idea of FIT’s was to support the small individual domestic installation, not give tax dollars to ‘free roof’ companies. The review reinforces the original idea and in the long term small installer will become the dominant installers of the PV industry.

Many free roof companies are up in arms in particular about the short timescale given for these changes to come into force. The biggest issue appears to be that there will be a huge rush over the next six weeks to complete projects which have already been commissioned under the old rules. This puts a huge amount of strain on an industry which is still short of labour resources.

With just a six week window to complete installations some companies have already seen a 400% increase in orders for parts and resources in just 1 day.

‘Free roof’ companies will reduce but not disappear despite opinions at the moment , that will mean more opportunity for the small installer, sensible pricing, intelligent selling to customers, in other words proper ways to run small businesses will secure a good opportunity for years to come.

Retrofit

It’s good business for the installer or smaller companies that specialise in retro fit.

Although some people are up in arms about the cuts, the industry will still remain to be very heavily subsidised.   For the majority of homeowners (those in the retro fit category) they can still achieve returns of around 5% per year tax free. This is still far greater than many other opportunities that exist at present. Also this return on investment will increase as energy bills for fossil fuels continue to soar in the next 25 years. So this means there will still be a market for retro fit solar PV installations which is the main stay of your average installer.

One area that will be affected negatively will be the market for free solar panels where companies fit the panels and then claim the FIT whilst home owners get free electricity. This will hit some larger companies in particular.

However the decline in free solar may also push more customers into funding their own installations meaning greater demand for smaller installations.

Long Term Impact

These changes actually mean that the solar industry will see continued and sustainable growth. Industry experts have been calling for cuts to the tariff for some time to ensure that the industry is not overrun by large corporations simply looking to suck up the subsidies available.

By bringing the subsidies in line with the cost of installation the solar industry will be forced to operate in a more completive market bringing the cost of installation down further within the reach of more home owners. Some panels are now 70% cheaper than this time last year.

It also means that many of the companies that have simply sprung up to feed off the tariffs may fall by the way side leaving those serious about green energy to continue providing green solutions to people who are also passionate about more than just their bank balance.

Regardless of the cuts it is clear that the solar industry will continue to grow as the cost of fossil fuels increases and the cost of installation will continue to drop. The recent cuts merely rebalance returns for consumers in line with their investment and at the new levels this will still run at around 5%. This is based on the current cost of installation and current cost of energy. Of course energy prices are going up at an unbelievable rate which only ever makes the figures work better. However with improved efficiency in panels, more skilled labour in the market and lower costs for technology the ROI on a solar PV will continue to increase.

So in conclusion, don’t panic, think about PV business as a sensible growth opportunity and not a fast buck deal, price sensibly, install properly and it will serve you well.

If you are looking at electrician training solar PV will still remain a key part of an electrician’s skills set. In fact it has been built in as standard to the new City & Guilds 2357 and EAL electrician courses

Solar PV courses are also still a great addition to a domestic installer’s skillset and a worthwhile investment of time and money.

 

Categories: decc, government, solar pv, feed-in-tariff

Greg Barker's keyboard caught fire yesterday...

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 7th October 2011

Well it didn’t ACTUALLY catch fire, but he must have burnt his fingers off yesterday and he fired through the some 300+ questions that were tweeted/emailed during TwitterUK’s Question & Answer series live yesterday using hashtag #askenergy.

Lots of industry related questions answering those poised on rising energy prices and household energy bills were thrown at him and we must say, he did his best!

 

 

Greg Barker started the morning by saying:

11:35 DECCgovuk:

Hi everyone - we're just about to get started #AskEnergy [via Twitter]

And ended with:

12:35 DECCgovuk:

times up im afraid. good fun but answers frustratingly short, if you found it useful let me know & will do again. #askenergy @gregbarkermp [via Twitter]

For those of you who didn’t get your question answered Mr Barker and his team plan to publish answers over the coming days.

We particular like:

12:13 DECCgovuk:

Setting up Marine Energy Parks and giving more money to get projects in water.UK marine has huge industrial potential which I am backing [via Twitter]

We’re an island after all and we’ve all got to work with what we’ve got.

To see more of his tweets from the day see www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/_twitterqa/_twitterqa.aspx

 

Categories: decc, government

Greg Barker on Twitter - who knew?

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 5th October 2011

Oh Twitter! David Cameron once tweeted “I’m tweeting so much I feel like a tw#t,” and now you’ve got our very own Climate Change and Energy Minister Greg Barker is now taking part in Twitters UK Question & Answer series. How. Very. Modern.

Mr Barker himself will be answering your energy related questions on subjects like rising energy prices, household energy bills on Thursday 6th October from 11.00am to 12.30pm.

Although if you feel like you’ve got a real burning question he’ll be taking questions in advance using the DECC twitter account @deccgovuk.

For those without a twitter account don’t worry your voices will still be heard. Multi-tasking Mr Barker will be also taking questions via his email address at: decc.ecomms@decc.gsi.gov.uk but make sure you submit them by midnight tonight (5th October) so you don’t miss out.

Questions and answers will be captured and published on the DECC website following the session

If you're on Twitter why don't you add us by click here, we tweet about the industry, company news & offers as well as lots of funny bits and pieces to break up the working day!

Categories: decc

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