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If you are thinking of Solar PV, – it’s time to stop thinking and act – NOW

If you’ve been considering Solar Photovoltaic (PV) for your home or business, then with the planned changes being brought forward, then it really is time to act NOW. As the saying goes Act Now or Regret at Leisure (sic).

Too many times in life we say “If only I’d” or “I could have”, or “They were lucky”.

Back in February 2011, the Government announced a Strategic review of the Feed-in Tariff Scheme, aka FiTS or FiT. that review was originally scheduled to be delivered at the beginning of 2012 (January) with implementation form March 2012, and at the time it was widely believed that it would result in a slightly large increase in the degradation rates of the Feed-In Tariff Scheme, i.e the rates would go down.

Well early indications from Greg Barker are that it will do far far more than that.  FiTS was NEVER intended as an investment vehicle for pension funds, in lieu of Tax free ISA’s as the like, well in the case of Solar PV, that is EXACTLY what it has become.

Over the past 2 years the cost of the materials associated with the installation of a Solar PV has fallen dramatically and Solar panels have in the wholesale market place now become a commodity as opposed to a specialist item, with even main-stream electrical distributors stocking all the parts for a solar PV installation. The effect of this is that the capital  cost of installing a 4kWp system has fallen from around £20,000 to less than £14,000 and 50kWp systems have fallen from £250,000 to around £125,000 – £150,000.

So what has that got to do with you? As I mentioned above, the original purpose of FiTS as stated on the Government’s website is:

Through the use of FITs DECC hope to encourage deployment of additional small scale (less than 5MW) low carbon electricity generation, particularly by organisations, businesses, communities and individuals who have not traditionally engaged in the electricity market. This will allow many people to invest in small scale low carbon electricity, in return for a guaranteed payment for the electricity they generate and export.

It was never supposed to be what it has become – the most lucrative investment opportunity in the UK.

The problem is that the Government has changed it’s tune, in the early days they were happy to promote it, as you can see in our download : Worcester Renewables – Free Guide to Investing in Solar PV Greg Barker was more than happy to encourage people to invest in Solar PV when he said

“Feed-in Tariffs provide some of the best secure investment returns available in the market”
Greg Barker, Climate Change Minister

Well, a lot of people took his advice, and the effect was a massive increase in the take up of solar PV – just what he wanted!

However all FiTS payments despite being paid by the electricity companies from a surcharge on all electricity bills is under EU rules considered Government expenditure, and with Strategic Spending Reviews in place, Greg Barker had to cut expenditure in this area. The catch 22 situation here is that cutting FiTS immediately stats to undermine the whole Government Green / Renewables investment strategy and may cause them problems with meeting their EU renewables targets.

So what did they do – First the launched the Strategic Review – what was supposed to be a year long exercise looking at the fundamental structure of the FiTS – and secondly the launched an emergency review which came into force in August and promptly killed of all the large scale solar PV investment.

Well the Strategic Review is about to be published – most sources are suggesting mid October, and the outcome is expected to be swift and hard, the key things are a MASSIVE CUT in FiTS payments to new Solar PV installations, and instead of waiting until April 2012, it is anticipated that this could come in as soon as JANUARY 2012, even back in August, I was predicting that it could go as low as 30p / kWh (for =< 4kWp systems) compared to the current 43.3p / kWh – and that would be in line with the above (£14,000 / £20,000 x 43.3p = 30.3p), some people are predicting it could go as low as 26p / kWh.

The time to act therefore is NOW – don’t delay for a free quotation click here: Request Your FREE No-Obligation Quote

To find out just how LUCRATIVE the current scheme is – and to see how much you will earn from the FITS – Click here: Energy Saving Trust – CashBackCalculator

For more background information on how rapidly this area of FiTS see these recent articles:

Worcester Renewable Tweets with Greg Barker

The new FiT, prices and the future for solar in the UK: Part 1

Worcester Renewables Ltd is an MCS Registered Installer of Solar PV systems and installs both Domestic and Commercial Systems, and is registered with and bound by the REAL consumer code.

50kW PV installations: Will there ever be a better time for commercial solar in the UK?

Article reprinted from  Blogs by Guest Blogger Published on 07 October 2011 Updated on 07 October 2011
Original article here:: http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/blogs/50kw_pv_installations_will_there_ever_be_a_better_time_for_co5478ial_solar/

 

50kW PV installations: Will there ever be a better time for commercial solar in the UK?

In the lead up to the Comprehensive FiT Review there is really no better time to invest in solar energy.

In the wake of the Fast Track Feed-in Tariff Review there may never be a better time to install a 50kW PV system in the UK.

The cost of a 50kW commercial solar photovoltaics (PV) system in the UK has now reached a price range of £130k to £150k. With the UK feed-in tariff set at 32.9p/kWh generated, I would argue that UK solar PV is currently in a bubble — one that serves up a golden opportunity for businesses to add solar PV to their property. David Owen’s excellent blog post on the new FiT, prices and the future for solar in the UK: Part 1 only serves to underline this point. In my opinion, it is unlikely that there will ever be a better time to act, so my advice would be: fill ‘yer boots!

The facts

A commercial 50kW PV system, taking up the rooftop area approximately the size of two tennis courts and located in the middle of the UK, would typically generate between £13k and £17k in FiT income and energy bill savings annually, generating a profit of approximately £260k over 25 years. Now, when you consider that the FiT income is index-linked to the CPI as well as being Government-backed, as a business case, commercial solar PV is a now a ‘no brainer’. This point is only accentuated as electricity prices escalate.

However, as good as this all sounds, many of us in the commercial solar sector know all too well that the timescale of a client’s decision and action is one of the key threats to the likelihood of projects proceeding at all. This issue became apparent when developing large-scale solar parks in the UK . Parks that were built were associated with landowning clients who actually took decisive and prompt action to proceed, therefore cutting through solicitor and agent delays. Yet for every landowner’s project brought into fruition before the August 1 FiT deadline, five are now, in hindsight, bitterly disappointed that their project didn’t make it. Many of these were cancelled purely due to delays in decision and action.

The time is now

To avoid similar disappointment businesses thinking of installing ~50kW solar systems must now act quickly or risk missing out. With less than six months remaining for solar PV systems to become operational and registered on the current FiT rates, there is effectively only two months left for businesses to begin the process of adding new solar to their property portfolio.

It is important to remember that although a survey and PV system design can be done quickly, planning permission typically takes three months and an application to connect the system to the electricity network is generally a two month exercise.

New applications must be in by the end of November 2011 to have realistic chance of being installed in time.
Unfortunately making decisions quickly is not always something that Business Managers are always encouraged to do. However, we are beginning to see signs that the message of the need for speed is just starting to get through. In fact, one of our clients is now vigorously taking the solar message to its Local Council and wider Government sector with the headline. Likewise we are seeing individual barn or rooftop owners decide that now is the time to act — particularly those farmers in Cornwall that are becoming more expert than the experts in solar PV!

Over the coming weeks we anticipate evaluating and planning hundreds of 50kW business solar PV systems for telecoms, transport, local council and agricultural clients in the race to be installed prior to April 2012, when the effects of the Comprehensive FiT Review will set in.

The new FiT, prices and the future for solar in the UK: Part 1

Article reprinted from  Blogs by Guest Blogger Published on 06 October 2011 Updated on 06 October 2011

Original article here: http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/blogs/the_new_fit_prices_and_the_future_for_solar_in_the_uk_part_1_5478/

The new FiT, prices and the future for solar in the UK: Part 1

Solar Media’s Founder and CEO David Owen talks us through exactly where the UK solar industry is headed as we build up to the Comprehensive Review.

By David Owen, Founder and CEO of Solar Media Ltd.

It’s almost one year since the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and rumours are beginning to fly around the UK solar industry as to what the upcoming Comprehensive Consultation on the feed-in tariff (FiT) holds. I decided it was time to investigate what people are actually saying, and to find out how much of what is being said matches the facts around budgets, pricing and deployment.

If I had £1 for every time I have been asked, “what will the new FiT look like?” in the past three months, then I would have, according to my calculations, £589. I am writing this blog in the hope that people will read it and reduce the wear and tear on my phone.

I do understand however, that we are at a seminal point in the PV industry’s development where drastic changes to the FiT could irrevocably harm the positive growth we have seen since April 2010.

Current size of the market

Let’s take stock. Ofgem’s register tells us that in this current FiT year there have been 197MW of PV installed to date. Still to be added are more than 75MW of large-scale projects already connected to the grid, which are outlined in Emma’s great piece on just how many solar projects beat the fast track review, while an estimated further 15MW in projects were extended under the FiT loophole.

Most in the industry assume that Ofgem is three months behind in logging registrations, but let’s forget that for the time being and focus on the numbers we know. By adding the latest installation figures with the confirmed large-scale projects, deployments in this current FiT year amount to around 287MW.

We can also add to this figure a number of large-scale social housing projects with as many as 5,000 homes at a time that have recently started deployment. This is likely to raise the run rate for domestic installs considerably and, as we are half way through the FiT year already, it looks likely that we will exceed 550MW by year end 31 March 2012.

Remember this is just PV installs, the other technologies, particularly AD are just starting to ramp.

So, what happens next?

Last year’s CSR imposed a budget cap on the FiT scheme (rightly or wrongly it is there) and if the 550MW projection is correct than that budget will be under severe pressure. Slides I have seen with the DECC original modelling of FiT deployments for PV was much lower at 86MW of new PV to be connected this year (see chart below).

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) had their own models (Feb 2011) which were provided to DECC before the Fast Track Feed-in Tariff Review when they called for a reduction to all tariff bands including the under 50kW sector. These estimations appear to be quite accurate given the current state of play, but were unfortunately ignored by those in power (see graph below).

Effect on the FiT

Looking at the cold hard facts, it is clear that something has got to give. The budget will not sustain another year of growth this strong. The DECC were planning to come out with their initial consultation on the Comprehensive Review of the FiT in September, that hasn’t happened. It seems that DECC have finally realised the magnitude of the potential budget overspend (little to do with large-scale PV it should be noted) and have rightly delayed the consultation as they asses their options and get their facts straight.

It is anticipated that the Comprehensive Review will now come out some time around or before October 19th, incidentally the week before the largest industry gathering at Solar Power UK in Birmingham. This late timing will at least allow the industry to digest the announcement in full and come together to assess the future.

Based on what I have heard, coupled with the deployment and budget conditions mentioned above, we should see at least a 30 to 50% decrease in the domestic feed-in tariff. Many companies are looking at their own costs and margins against the DECC target of 7 – 9% return for consumers and are coming up with figures much lower, at around the 15% mark.

What you should do

If you are basing your business plan on digression that low then my advice is re-assess now!

The good news is that owing to weak demand in global PV markets the price for solar components, especially modules, has dropped dramatically in the past six months. But with positive signs starting to emerge from Germany these prices will begin to plateau by the end of this calendar year.

If you are planning your installation or distribution business in the UK right now than you cannot afford to miss the upcoming Solar Power UK Conference in Birmingham from the 26th to the 28th of October. Get out of work for one or two days and ensure that you are aware of and prepared for drastic cuts in the tariff. Don’t leave your blinkers on and assume everything will continue at the current unsustainable pace. Industry experts and the biggest selection of component suppliers will be out in force to help you reduce the costs to your business for customer acquisition, product sourcing and quality to ensure you can stay competitive under a new FiT regime.

Interestingly, the conference is exploring the idea of a PV industry without a FiT in the UK and it could come sooner than you might think.

In Part 2 of this blog I will look at the prices you should be paying for your products now, how to get a better deal and how to prepare for the pending changes to the FiT.

David Owen is the Founder and CEO of Solar Media Ltd – the largest global business-to-business media company dedicated to the solar PV industry. With a combined online audience approaching 230,000 per month, in English and Chinese, Solar Media Ltd is at the forefront of independent coverage of the PV industry. In the UK David has spoken at many events, consults for companies throughout the supply chain and has been active on the REA and STA steering committees for a number of years.

Reprinted from: http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/blogs/the_new_fit_prices_and_the_future_for_solar_in_the_uk_part_1_5478/

Enecsys SMI microinverters now feature Ember ZigBee technology

Enecsys_ZigBee-470x240

Enecsys has integrated Ember’s ZigBee system-on-chip (SoC) and ZigBee PRO software into its SMI series of microinverters

Aiming to boost solar photovoltaics installation monitoring and performance Enecsys has teamed up with Ember to bring wireless ZigBee communication technology to UK homes and businesses.

Enecsys has integrated Ember’s ZigBee system-on-chip (SoC) and ZigBee PRO software into its SMI series of microinverters, which convert the DC output of individual or duo solar panels into AC for connection to the electricity grid. By incorporating the technology into its microinverters Enecsys is able to communicate detailed information on the performance of each solar module, which string inverters cannot do.

The Ember-enabled microinverters provide real-time and historical data to a user-friendly graphical interface so that users can ensure PV system performance is optimised over the life of its installation.

"Ember’s ZigBee technology enabled us to deliver a micro inverter solution with robust wireless communications that’s easy and inexpensive to install," said Louis-Philippe Lalonde, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and Product Management at Enecsys. "We selected Ember because of the company’s leadership in the ZigBee industry and the reliability of their technology."

"While ZigBee is already the wireless standard of choice for devices in Smart Home and Smart Energy applications, Enecsys is leading the charge in extending ZigBee communications on to the roof for grid-connected solar PV systems," said Bert Lutje Berenbroek, Ember’s Vice President of Sales for EMEA. "The long life, reliability and robustness of its micro inverter family demands the same level of performance for its wireless communications capabilities, which Ember is proud to deliver."

This article originally appeared here: http://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/enecsys_smi_microinverters_now_feature_ember_zigbee_technology_5478/

Worcester Renewable Tweets with Greg Barker–Minister Avoids the Questions

In usual politician parlance no questions were actually answered, , however here are the questions I did manage to get an answer to in poli-speak.

 

WorcsRenewables Worcester Renewables

@DECCgovuk There are lots of rumours of massive cuts to the Feed in Tariff for Solar PV in April 2012, what are your plans?

WorcsRenewables Worcester Renewables

@DECCgovuk #AskEnergy What is the current timescale for the FiTs Strategic Review?

WorcsRenewables Worcester Renewables

@DECCgovuk #AskEnergy rumours abound that the FiTs review is late and that another drop in Feed-in Tariffs will b annouced before Xmas True?

DECCgovuk DECC

clearly big scope to realign tariff with cost, the more we save the more there will be to spread further. i want max takeup 4 money & TLC

DECCgovuk DECC

And by TLC i mean Transparency, Longevity & Certainty for consumers and industry

WorcsRenewables Worcester Renewables

@DECCgovuk does that mean FiT rates may change mid year with short notice? #AskEnergy

DECCgovuk DECC

Massive fall in solar costs & big take up is good news but FITs need to be more dynamic to track industry. Comprehensive Review out shortly

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