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Solar Thermal vs Solar PV for Installers

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 30th June 2011

The rise of Solar Energy in the last few years has been almost meteoric. Solar PV has been all the rage with Feed in tariff’s providing the incentive for many home owners to take the plunge and install solar PV technology on their roof’s. However with most people having fairly limited roof space there is another alternative that is not only cheaper but will also soon be able to generate a return on your investment.

Solar Thermal has actually been around for much longer than Solar PV but it has been eclipsed by its electric generating cousin because that has been the main focus of Feed in Tariff’s. However the introduction of the first phase of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) (which rewards Industrial, commercial, public sector and community buildings for the heat they produce) will produce a surge in demand for Solar Thermal, Heat pumps and biomass boilers.

The second phase of the RHI will be launched in October 2012 and will reward homeowners for the heat they produce. As yet the tariffs have not been finalised however it is very likely that that at the end of next year demand for Solar Thermal is set to rise.

Until the Tariffs are announced it is hard to say which solar solution will be best for you and your home, however I have tried to layout the pro’s and Cons below:

Solar PV cons

Less Energy Efficient than Solar Thermal

More Expensive Than Solar Thermal to Install

Because it’s less efficient Solar PV requires more roof space

Solar PV Pro’s

Feed In Tariff already live

Guaranteed return for 25 years

Rates are currently very good! 43.3p per kilowatt even if you use the energy.

Can outperform solar thermal at colder time of year

Solar Thermal Pro’s

More energy efficient than PV

Cheaper than solar PV to install

Requires less roof space

Solar Thermal Cons

RHI tariffs yet to be agreed

Return will only be guaranteed for 20 years

Payments are likely to be 18p per KW or less

Less efficient in winter when you need hot water the most

Requires a dedicated boiler / tank

It is hard to say which technology is better as it really depends on your needs. What is clear is that although solar thermal is more energy efficient, the weight of the incentives currently lay with PV and as such this is where financially it makes most sense to invest.

Ideally if you have the roof space installing both would make a lot of sense from both a financial and an environmental perspective. It is also clear that we are currently in a boom time for PV. Many people are still unsure about installing PV, however the current feed in tariff’s are only applicable to installations completed before April 2012. As we approach that time it is likely demand for PV installations will continue to grow as people realise what a good deal is currently on offer.

Very few investments can boast a 10% tax free return for 25 years and deal is not going to hang about.

As an installer Solar PV is likely to be a very wise addition to your skill set, however it is definitely worth looking into being able to fit solar Thermal too. It would be rare to find someone that could fit both PV and Solar Thermal and this could be a winning combination of skills. If you are a qualified plumber it would be worth preparing yourself for the surge in demand that is likely to hit in October next year by training now and getting ahead of the competition. In fact plumbers will be the winners next Octobers as a whole range of technologies will be in increased demand including ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, unvented hot water systems, biomass boilers and solar thermal all gain a boost.

Don't forget we offer solar PV installation courses and solar thermal training in our renewable energy training centre.


Categories: solar thermal, renewable energy, solar pv

Winner of the Prize Draw Announced

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 22nd June 2011

On Friday 17th June we held our Renewable energy open day. We held a free raffle and a solar PV installer’s kit worth £450 was up for grabs.

The lucky winner was Elaine Oake who was thrilled with the result. “I am impressed with your centre and I really enjoyed the day. I would like to thank you again for the prize I am really chuffed,” said Elaine.

I’m sure Elaine will put the kit to good use and we hope to see her clambering on a roof near you soon!


Categories: simon weston obe, renewable energy, events

Falklands War Hero Urges to Retrain Services Personnel

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 21st June 2011

More must be done by government, businesses and the military to prepare forces personnel for life after they have served their country.

“Servicemen and women need to be retrained seven years before leaving the military in order to be prepared for their future,” said Simon Weston OBE, who has thrived in the media after being dismissed as ‘totally unemployable’ after suffering horrific burns injuries during the Falklands War.

Weston was speaking as guest of honour at the launch of a training hub that is offering free bursaries to former forces personnel to become domestic installers, electricians and renewable energy installers in technologies such as solar PV.

Businessmen, energy consultants, installers and military personnel gathered at Trade Skills 4U’s new renewable training centre in Crawley, West Sussex, on Friday 17 June, when Conservative MP Henry Smith officially opened the site. The day featured key seminars by their industry leading partners and live demonstrations by instructors, helping to demystify the skills and processes involved when installing renewable energy technologies.

Simon Weston presented the first Forgotten Heroes bursaries kick-starting the free training initiative created by Trade Skills 4U. This scheme was purposely created to offer some practical help to our heroes by arming them with the opportunity to begin a new career in the electrical and renewable energy industries. The permanent offer aims to give away £100,000 worth of free training every year to those who have left the forces are facing adversity and are struggling to find a new career path.

Among the bursary awardees stands Ian Lockie, who served in the RAF in Germany and Norfolk for nine years and left the military in 1998. He still receives treatment for PTSD to this day and had found himself looking for a new direction. “I have been a bus driver and satellite installer since leaving,” he said. “I read news of the bursaries in a national newspaper and applied and have been awarded a bursary to retrain as an electrician and solar PV installer. I certainly hope to make the most of this opportunity.”

Golden Zimmaestro of Nottingham, another awardee, served in Germany for three years but was forced to leave on medical grounds. Now 33, he has found work difficult to find since leaving but said he was “really looking forward to my training in Solar PV installation”.

Trade Skills 4U (TS4U) Managing Director Carl Bennett, a former long-serving police officer who now works closely with the military, also appealed for more action to help former forces personnel: “I believe the government and military do not do enough to assist our ex-servicemen. Businesses and the military need to be encouraged to promote our boys and girls for their thankless service for their country. Hardworking, they have plenty of skills to offer. Help our heroes practically and financially by considering them for jobs and advertising your positions in military magazines.”

Simon Weston applauded Carl Bennett for TS4U’s training initiative, stressing that skills learnt in the military were transferable but believing that not enough was being done to help former personnel after they left the services, he said. “When you leave the military, they don’t do enough. Servicemen need to be retrained seven years before leaving the military to be prepared for their future.”

“Troops can be damaged physically and mentally,” Simon Weston said. “I had horrific burns injuries after the Falklands but focused on the opportunities that were available to me and have been in the media now for 29 years as a result. Men and women all over the world have been left injured after serving their country and haven’t had the same opportunities as I so they have been left to cope on their own. There aren’t enough opportunities for these people which is why TS4U’s bursary scheme is brilliant scheme to be a part of.”

When only 21, Simon Weston had to be resettled after suffering his injuries. A year later he was sent to see his colonel in a wheelchair, still covered in bandages and weighing just eight stone. Asked what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, he replied: “Serve in the military and play rugby.” After due consideration, the colonel ruled he was “totally unemployable”. “My regiment was a great support and helped with morale but the military did nothing and morale doesn’t pay the bills,” Simon Weston said.

The TS4U initiative should form “a model for other businesses to follow”, he added. “Prepare for the future now and diversify as much as possible. You don’t know what may happen and what you may not have.”

The Trade Skills 4U opening day was a resounding success raising awareness of not just renewable energy but also how employers can help our forgotten heroes. The day highlighted it’s not just about raising money for charity but also crucial that employers look at the skilled labour leaving the forces and take advantage of these very talented individuals.

Trade Skills 4U intends to continue to offer one free training place at its centre at any one time to a forgotten hero over the coming year. This is a massive contribution from what could be considered a small company but it is definitely going to make a huge difference to those that are successful in gaining a bursary place.

Categories: simon weston obe, renewable energy, forgotten heroes bursary scheme, events

First Bursary Place Announced!

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 15th June 2011

Forgotten Hero announced to kick-start Training bursary

Trade Skills 4U ‘Forgotten Hero bursary scheme’ will officially launch at their Renewable Energy training centre open day on 17th June 2011. The scheme was introduced by Managing director Carl Bennett, who watched February’s BBC documentary ‘Forgotten hero’s’ with Col Tim Collins and felt inspired to do something practical to help. This genuine and permanent offer of one space at any one time completely free of charge, aims to help ex-service men and women who are struggling to find their feet following their discharge from the armed forces.

Simon Weston OBE will be presenting the awarded bursary candidate, Ian Lockie, at the open day with the popular Green Package. This 22 day domestic installer training package is structured to allow a new entrant into the electrical industry to be become a Solar Panel installer and enter what is becoming an exciting new industry. The package worth just under £3000 will hopefully enable Mr Lockie a much deserved chance at a new career path.

During his 9 year term, SACC Ian Lockie served in Bosnia, Iraq, Germany and Northern Ireland and is now one of the many forgotten heroes who has been left to fend for himself in the civilian world. “This scheme allows me to actually get into a decent trade in which I can work in until I retire. It’s the miracle opportunity I’ve been wishing for.” Lockie also suffers from PTSD, Post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. Lockie’s regular treatment for the common disorder saw him pushed into compulsory redundancy from his previous employment. “I’m so glad that businesses are now doing what they can to help ex-serviceman and women, I just hope that other companies are inspired by Trade Skills 4U’s practical approach to help.”

If you might be eligible for the Forgotten Heroes bursary scheme, or know someone who is, contact Trade Skills 4U on 01293 529777 or visit www.tradeskills4u.co.uk/pages/free-training.


Categories: simon weston obe, free training, renewable energy, forgotten heroes bursary scheme, events

Honour our Forces Help Boost Forgotten Heroes Bursary

Posted by Chloe Bennett on 13th June 2011

This week we got talking to Honour our Forces, a UK non-profit organisation which raises much needed funds & awareness for the Armed Forces at home & abroad as well as their families. The Charity was set up in 2009 with the aim of supporting our boys and girls, past and present.

Honour Our Heroes director, Piers, noticed our campaign for free training for forgotten heroes and has jumped in to help promote this great opportunity. Our first bursary places will be presented at our Renewable energy launch happening this Friday (17th June,) with national hero Simon Weston OPE awarding the worthy candidates.

“I will do my up most up to promote this great idea,” says piers. “It’s so great when people do what they can to help our heroes.”

Ian Lockie & Golden Zimmaestro are the first two candidates to participate in the scheme having been awarded our popular GREEN packages. Our green package allows entrants to enter the industry and train to become a domestic and solar PV installer.

We are giving away 100,000 worth of free training and we want to spend. If you know anyone that may be eligible or want to support our cause contact us on 01293 529777 or visit www.tradeskills4u.co.uk/pages/free-training.


Categories: simon weston obe, free training, renewable energy, forgotten heroes bursary scheme, events