week ending 18 November 2011
Alan Simpson: David Cameron should not be surprised that his ‘green’ credentials are to be legally challenged by the community energy schemes he directly pledged to support. The PM may have a solar roof on his own home, but he wants to prevent most others from doing the same. Specifically, he wants to make sure the poor can’t join him. For a government with not much to boast about, it is either clumsy or cynical to cut a scheme because it is becoming too successful... especially when it earns more than it costs. Decentralised, renewable energy could take Britain down a path that would end the rigged energy market that leaves most of us powerless to change the game. Britain’s energy cartel knows that if we were to go down the same path - with millions of households, and thousands of communities, becoming energy producers and not just consumers - the rigged market would be over.
Business Green 18th Nov 2011 more >>
The cost of installing panels has fallen to about £9,000, but that still means the 10% tax-free inflation-linked return early adopters got has now fallen to more like 5%. You might think that makes it no longer worth the bother (you can keep your £9,000 and get 4.4% in a savings account instead) and we’d probably agree – particularly given just how cash-strapped our government remains. They haven’t cut tariffs retrospectively yet. But they could.
Money Week 18th Nov 2011 more >>
Scottish Solar Industry
The once burgeoning Scottish solar industry is in a state of shock following the publication of Department of Energy and Climate Change’s comprehensive review of solar Feed-in-Tariffs (FIT) on 31st October 2011. 5 out of 7 solar projects Locogen were working on over the last six months have already been lost, worth in the region of £600,000. They can see a similar pattern across the entire sector as commercial enterprises pull the plug on their solar investments. Right now we are working flat out to get projects completed before December 12th, but after that, the picture is very bleak. At a time when the Scottish economy is struggling, the solar industry is providing jobs and financial stimulus. The renewable energy industry is one of few growth sectors north of the border, but we need to support these industries, not pull the rug from under them.
Business 7 18th November 2011 more >>
Solar Trade Association chairman, Howard Johns, has called for the PV industry to back a march on parliament next week. Mr Johns, who is also the founder of Southern Solar, took to his blog yougen.co.uk to urge solar PV installers to join the march on November 22.
Edie 18th Nov 2011 more >>
A full briefing is now available for the Rally and Lobby of Parliament on 22nd November 2011.We have also just heard there will be a full debate on the cuts to Feed-in Tariffs in Parliament the following day, called by the Opposition. That makes the lobby the perfect time to see your MP and demand they vote to support solar.
Our Solar Future 17th Nov 2011 more >>
Our Solar Future 17th Nov 2011 more >>
Solar is an enormously promising competitive solution to climate change, but this may not represent the most profound impact of the technology. What makes solar really interesting is that it has the potential to rewrite the rules governing electricity markets in the same way that the internet has blown-apart the old order in the media and publishing industries. Solar is a profoundly democratic technology – for the most part owned and operated by the general public, by schools, community groups and small private institutions. Across Europe approximately two thirds of all solar installations are not owned by energy utilities. By giving homeowners the ability to generate a significant proportion of their own electricity, you cut into the market power of the established utilities. The supreme irony of all of this for the current debate in the UK is that while politicians bemoan the market power of established energy utilities, aggressively cutting feed-in-tariffs actively undermines the role solar can play – and in Germany is already playing – in driving energy prices down for energy consumers.
Edie 17th Nov 2011 more >>
Any progress in the pursuit of grid parity for solar energy? One recent calculation, for example, predicted 2018 was a more likely date for grid parity in developing nations blessed with strong solar radiation, but not feed-in tariffs. Are the prices of panels falling? And, if so, will they continue to do so? Or has the pressure on subsidies pushed the arrival of grid parity further back? This column is an experiment in crowd-sourcing a reader’s question, so please let us know your own thoughts below (as opposed to emailing them) and, if quoting figures to support your points, please provide a link to the source. I will also be inviting various interested parties to join the debate, too.
Guardian 17th Nov 2011 more >>
Liberal Democrat councillors are preparing to revolt over the coalition government’s crackdown on solar subsidies, as a growing number have been greeted with stiff opposition from outraged householders and companies fearing swingeing job cuts. A secret briefing document seen by the Guardian reveals the extent of Lib Dem anger at the controversial policy to slash solar power incentives for households – a policy that many local Lib Dem politicians feel is a betrayal of their core values. Local councillors are being advised to push for a postponement of the subsidy cuts, as a minimum.
Guardian 17th Nov 2011 more >>
FiTs a good deal for taxpayer
Howard Johns says “This is a complete and utter sham, all this stuff about green growth and how this was going to be the greenest government ever ... No one will invest in green growth in this country when the Government keeps moving the goalposts. You need stability to grow as an industry, so you can make plans and stick to them.” He is particularly angry because he is sitting on what he regards as explosive new evidence that so-called feed-in-tariffs (FITs, or sums paid for excess electricity generated by households from renewable sources), far from draining the purse, are highly profitable. He wouldn’t give the numbers ahead of their release by the Element Energy consultancy later this month. However, The Independent has seen an extract which shows that the tariffs have generated more than £280m in various taxes since they were introduced in April last year, and cost just £220m.
Independent 17th Nov 1011 more >>
Still a sound investment
What does this actually mean for you? Well, at the moment the current feed-in tariff rate is 43p per unit and from 12 December this will be lowered to 21p per unit. For all of Ecosource’s existing customers who already have solar PV systems installed you willnotbe affected. Customers booked in to have a PV system installed prior to 12 December 2011 will alsonotbe affected and all of us at Ecosource Solutions will do our utmost to assist you and reassure you as best we can and to ensure your FIT application is sent off to the energy suppliers in plenty of time. With all the negative press and media flying around you might think this is bad news but actually it is still a sound investment to purchase a solar PV system, especially here in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset where we get so much sunshine. The new FIT rate of 21p (guaranteed for 25 years as before) means that installing a solar panel system is still an excellent and viable option for most and you should still receive a return on your investment of approximateoly 5 to 10% on an annual basis. If you have an optimum south facing roof you should receive the higher percentage return. And don’t forget, once the PV system has paid for itself you will continue to receive free electricity and feed-in-tariff payments on your existing rate for the remainder of the 25 years.
Low Carbon Economy 17th Nov 2011 more >>
HyperSolar, Inc., the developer of a breakthrough technology to make renewable natural gas using solar power, announced yesterday that it has filed a patent application for the production of renewable natural gas using sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. This renewable natural gas is a clean, carbon neutral methane gas that can be used as a direct replacement for traditional natural gas to power the world, without drilling or fracking, while mitigating CO2 emissions.
Oil Price 17th Nov 2011 more >>
Global Solar to reach 24GW
Global solar photovoltaic installations will rise 24% this year, despite a weak start, to reach 24 GW, according to a report by IMS Research.
Energy Efficiency News 17th Nov 2011 more >>
Oil Price 16th Nov 2011 more >>
Air source heat pumps have emerged as the most popular technology in the first £15m round of the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, as 24 social housing landlords each secured up to £175,000 to install green heating systems. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today announced the first round of winners for a £3m Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) competition to install biomass boilers, solar hot water panels, and heat pumps in social housing.
Business Green 17th Nov 2011 more >>
This is the kind of thing we need from the renewable energy community!! November 20 is Occupy Rooftops with Solar day. From Kathmandu, Nepal to San Antonio, Texas, people around the world are coming together to Occupy Rooftops. This new wave in the Occupy movement is being spearheaded by solar finance company Solar Mosaic and 20 other progressive companies and organizations to help people kickstart solar projects in their communities ... on schools, non-profits, places of worship, etc. Email a photo of your group in front of a building you want to be powered by solar, and they’ll help your group get started on a community solar project.
IB Times 17th Nov 2011 more >>
RENEWABLE energy installer SunGift Solar has claimed top spot in the region’s Green Energy Awards. The company, based at Matford Business Park in Exeter, was named joint winner of the Best Renewable Energy Installer or Supplier category, having previously won the award in 2009. The team of 45 beat off competition from renewable energy companies across the South West, taking the top spot alongside Bristol-based Ethical Solar.
Exeter Express & Echo 17th Nov 2011 more >>
ELECTRONICS giant Sharp has “no plans” to close its Wrexham factory. Bosses last night denied reports they were to shut the Llay plant, axing 500 workers in the process, because of solar subsidy cuts. However, the company admitted the solar panel side of the business and plans for a £30m expansion – creating another 300 jobs – would have to be “looked at” because of the government’s feed-in tariff review.
Daily Post 17th Nov 2011 more >>
Business Green 16th Nov 2011 more >>
Renewable Energy Focus 16th Nov 2011 more >>
Phase-in FiT cuts?
Climate Minister Greg Barker is considering phasing in the proposed cuts, although it is worth noting that the logic-defying timeline for the consultation means that Barker could not legally announce any delay to the changes until after the crucial 12 December cut-off date. As such, the mishandling of the proposed changes will have a chilling effect on the solar industry over the next few months regardless of whether some form of compromise can be reached.
Business Green 16th Nov 2011 more >>
Telegraph 14th Nov 2011 more >>
Solar power is already delivering in Germany and the UK should rethink its policy, Imperial College emeritus professor Keith Barnham told a Royal Society meeting. In a talk at the Can Solar Power Deliver? meeting in London, Barnham noted that Germany has as of 2010 installed 17 GW of first and second generation PV ahead of predictions of 12 GW. Germany now has 250 times the solar capacity of the UK, which Burnham says is an “appalling statistic”. The technology is delivering benefits for German industry, he says, in the form of lower peak power costs and an economical feed-in tariff (FIT).
Energy Efficiency News 16th Nov 2011 more >>
Newcastle goes solar
30 housing blocks across Newcastle are set to benefit from rooftop solar energy systems thanks to a £1.9 million investment by Your Homes Newcastle. The work will be carried out by renewable energy company OPUS Green, who will now design, supply, install and commission photovoltaic installations on buildings in Elswick, Kenton, Shieldfield and Newburn. While the new solar panels will lower Your Home Newcastle’s carbon footprint, they will also generate revenue for the company under the Governments Feed In Tariff scheme. This incentive allows businesses and homeowners to earn money for every unit of energy created by solar PV, regardless of whether the electricity is used or not.
Bdaily 16th Nov 2011 more >>
Plans to make the Isle of Wight the UK’s first energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral region by 2020 have been revealed at Westminster. The 23-mile (37km) long and 13-mile (21km) wide island, with a population of 142,500, currently draws 600GWh of electricity from the mainland. EcoIsland, the organisation behind the scheme, has revealed plans for a waste-to-energy plant and to harness tidal and geothermal power. The plans also aim to cut landfill to zero and to stop waste being transported off the island.
BBC 16th Nov 2011 more >>
Renewable Energy Focus 16th Nov 2011 more >>
Toshiba provides expertise in power generation, transmission and distribution, with capabilities in renewable energy sources that includes photovoltaic and wind power. Toshiba integrate this know-how with extensive, state-of-the art capabilities in other areas, including metering, communications, high density storage batteries, home and building management and road transportation, to deliver comprehensive, low-carbon solutions in Smart Grid and Smart Community systems.
Electronics Weekly 14th Nov 2011 more >>
Green energy company ITM Power has joined forces with a number of blue chip multinationals to undertake the largest single sustainable energy project in the UK. The company, whose research and development facilities are based in Sheffield, is teaming up with IBM, Toshiba, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Scottish and Southern Energy and Southern Water to launch the EcoIsland consortium.
Sheffield Star 15th Nov 2011 more >>
Good Riddance to FiT
Dominic Lawson: Good riddance to the great solar scam. Britain’s plunge into this grotesque subsidy has come at a time when other countries have pulled back.
Independent 15th Nov 2011 more >>
Even householders on time could miss 43p
Climate minister Greg Barker has admitted that a number of households and businesses could see the feed-in tariff payments they receive cut by around 50 per cent, despite having installed solar panels ahead of the government’s announcement that it was planning to change the scheme. Barker confirmed in response to a written parliamentary question from Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Caroline Flint that there were 32,023 sites at the end of October where small scale solar systems had been installed but had not yet registered for the feed-in tariff scheme.
Business Green 15th Nov 2011 more >>
The Government’s decision to halve state subsidies for solar panel schemes before a consultation has been completed is a “financial and political disaster” that “willingly bankrupts” companies, solar entrepreneurs have warned.
Telegraph 15th Nov 2011 more >>
You must have your panels fitted by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approved installer AND have the property registered with the MCS by 12 December 2011 to benefit from the current higher feed-in tariff (FIT) rate. After that date, the payment for solar panel generated electricity is being cut from 43.3p per kWh to 21p. Anyone having solar panels installed before that date will lock in to the higher rate for 25 years, with increases linked to inflation (see more on this below). The emphasis is clearly on getting your panels installed as soon as possible.
This is Money 15th Nov 2011 more >>
The Government’s announcement that the feed-in tariff for solar energy is being cut will cause major problems in the Cambridge area. The warning has come from solar systems installation company Cambridge Solar, and follows news that the tariff is to be reduced from next month.
Cambridge Evening News 15th Nov 2011 more >>
For a country not blessed with much sunshine, Northern Ireland seems an unlikely home for a company proving to be a world leader in the solar energy market. But Kingspan Renewables in Portadown is exporting its products to Asia, America, sub-Saharan Africa and Australia.
Belfast Telegraph 15th Nov 2011 more >>
Liverpool Community College is to open one of the UK’s largest green training centres later this week. The £250,000 facility is aimed at helping businesses provide staff with practical experience in supplying and fitting green equipment, and even features a full-size ‘indoor house’ for students to practice on.
Business Green 15th Nov 2011 more >>
The founder of Shetland Wind Power, which went into administration on Friday, is to start up a new operation looking after the needs of the company’s turbine customers in the islands. Michael Anderson from Hoswick is stepping in to buy back some of the assets of his old company which he sold to Glasgow private equity investors Nevis Capital last year. It has emerged that other parts of Shetland Wind Power, including its new turbine orders and customer inquiry list, were bought on Friday by the Ayrshire-based renewables firm VG Energy. The rest of the company’s assets and affairs were then placed in administration with accountants KPMG. The deals were only revealed today, four days on. Despite the new arrangements, customers who bought turbines through Wind Power will not have their warranties honoured or be able to get free servicing or new parts. The new Wind Power customers taken on by VG are likely to be offered an American-made Xzeres turbine instead of the Proven Energy machines originally intended for supply.
Shetland Times 15th Nov 2011 more >>
The seemingly inexorable march of the solar panel may have come to an abrupt halt. Homeowners across Britain have been having them installed to take advantage of generous payments from the Government in exchange for the energy that they supply, some of which can be sold back to the national grid. However, the Government’s abrupt decision to halve these payments means that the economics of the deal now stack up rather differently.
Telegraph 14th Nov 2011 more >>
Solar firms are being invited to formally join legal action against the government, challenging its controversial decision to slash incentives for new installations with effect from next month. Solarcentury announced last week that it would seek a judicial review of the government’s decision, after ministers proposed cutting feed-in tariffs for solar installations by 50 per cent, with the changes coming into force from 12 December. Late last week Friends of the Earth and solar firm HomeSun confirmed they would join the Solarcentury claim as separate claimants, further cranking up the pressure on the government to reconsider its proposals.
Business Green 14th Nov 2011 more >>
A RENEWABLE energy company has expanded into Yorkshire as part of a national growth plan.Liverpool-based Eco Environments has set up an office in Leeds as part of its plan to opening in every major regional centre.Eco Environments began trading less than four years ago and this year is on course to nearly quadruple turnover to £5.5m. It designs, installs and commissions renewable energy solutions for the domestic, commercial and construction sectors.
Business Desk 14th Nov 2011 more >>
A number of companies with interests in residential combined heat and power (micro-CHP) in the UK have set out a roadmap demonstrating how micro-CHP could replace condensing boilers in the home heating market. The companies are Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited, Ceres Power, Baxi Group, E.ON, British Gas, Calor, Efficient Home Energy and Energetix.
Fuel Cell Today 14th Nov 2011 more >>
Solar Appeal to Cameron
In a letter to the Prime Minister seen by The Independent on Sunday, a coalition of 55 individuals and groups warns he will “strangle at birth” Britain’s booming solar panel industry – threatening 25,000 jobs – by halving the state subsidy for the popular “feed-in tariff” scheme.
Independent 13th Nov 2011 more >>
The decision to pull the plug on solar power is part of that retreat from green ambition. As we report today, that decision has provoked a reaction from an unusual alliance, including the Confederation of British Industry and housing associations. The breadth of this revolt suggests that Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, should think again.
Independent 13th Nov 2011 more >>
Letter: THE news that the UK government has suddenly changed the goalposts on the matter of the feed-in tariffs (FITs) payable for green electricity generated from domestic solar photovoltaic (PV) systems has left me incredulous. By reducing the tariffs by 50 per cent effective from 12 December, the burgeoning industry that has sprung up in the response to a deliberately stimulated demand has had the rug pulled from under it. Many of these businesses will now go under, thus losing many jobs. Until now, it was clearly set out by the government that the tariffs would be gradually reduced from April next year, allowing the demand to adjust as the price of photovoltaic panels were predicted to come down. It was designed to be a carefully considered plan that would create an industry that would have long-term sustainability. As the news struck, I was one of a group of 12 householders in the village where I live that was part-way through commissioning PVs. Like everyone in the group I believed it was the right thing to do in the fight to reduce our exceptionally high carbon footprint created by heating and lighting hard-to-heat stone cottages. It’s clear that it is essential to reduce such costs if older housing is to be sustainable and affordable to ordinary people. Most of us, as it happens, are retired or will be soon, and are anxious about the future. We felt it was a good investment for any savings we have, and with the FITs scheme as it was, to invest in something that would help with fuel costs – at the same time as helping in the fight to save the planet for future generations.
Scotland on Sunday 13th Nov 2011 more >>
Renewable energy is great for the planet and human health. And unlike fossil fuels, anyone can become a clean-energy producer by adopting some panels or a small turbine. But one of the overlooked aspects of renewable energy is the innovative ways in which it can be financed. Take Solar Mosaic for example, which last month turned on the switch of a 120-panel system at the Asian Resource Center, a non-profit in Oakland, California. This wasn’t a typical purchase or leasing deal. This “community solar” project had the backing of supporters who invested $100 toward a portion of the panels. With this deal, Solar Mosaic then leases the panels to the Center at a rate below what utilities typically charge. Then the solar company takes that money and gives it back to the investors, who get their money back in full within eight years.
IB Times 11th Nov 2011 more >>
FoE Legal Action
Environmental charity Friends of the Earth is to take the government to court over plans to halve subsidies for households which install solar panels. The charity said it had written to the government and asked it to agree to amend its proposals by Friday, but said it received only a “holding response”.
BBC 11th Nov 2011 more >>
Business Green 11th Nov 2011 more >>
Solar firms led by Solarcentury are launching legal action over the UK government’s decision to cut feed-in tariffs (FITs) by over 50%, which was lambasted yesterday by the director-general of the CBI.
Energy Efficiency News 11th Nov 2011 more >>
A Cumbrian home improvements firm is to create several new jobs after expanding into the solar panels market. Carlisle Window Systems (CWS) now supplies and installs solar photovoltaic panels. The firm has secured industry accreditation, meaning the products it fits qualify for the Government’s feed-in tariff. A spokesman for CWS said: “Solar power is not just environmentally friendly, it’s an investment. “It saves money on your bills as you generate your own energy and you can get money back from the Government through the feed-in tariff. “Solar panels naturally fit into our portfolio, complementing our energy saving products like our A-rated windows and doors.
Cumberland News 11th Nov 2011 more >>
Solar PV systems offer a source of renewable energy for organisations keen to reduce the carbon footprint of their housing stock. Despite the relative simplicity of these systems in use, several issues can arise. These can compromise the efficiency of your panels, cutting the energy they generate.
FM World 10th Nov 2011 more >>
A CITY church is set to see its electricity bills fall by 80 per cent after becoming the first congregation in the Capital to fit solar panels to its roof. The solar power system at Saughtonhall United Reformed Church is among the biggest on a church in the UK. It will be officially switched on at a special ceremony tomorrow.
Edinburgh Evening News 29th Oct 2011 more >>