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Monthly archives: March 2009

REpower has successfully installed three of its six megawatt (MW) turbines near the German-Danish border, bringing the massive new turbines closer to their final destination: offshore wind farms.

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Germany’s Enercon will supply turbines to two Scottish wind farms under development by RWE npower renewables, a subsidiary of Germany energy firm RWE.

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The Federation representing Roofing contractors in the UK has lent its support to the We Support Solar campaign. The National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC), along with a number of other key members of the industry have joined the campaign to assert the notion of a feed-in tariff which if implemented properly will be a powerful way of kick starting solar investment in the UK.

The feed-in tariff, currently in the consultancy stage with the government, if introduced would offer long-term contracts with fixed rates for electricity produced by small scale installations. In other countries such as Spain and Germany it has proved to be a successful way of enticing investment by offering reliable yields over a long period of time. In this way, the feed-in tariff would also help create a number of jobs and also lead to the growth of the green energy manufacturing sector.

Since Gordon Brown’s statements regarding the ‘Green new deal’ in which he expressed his ideas to help the economy through the development of a low carbon economy, there has been an even greater focus on the real viability of solar, particularly if helped by government legislation. Many members of the industry have therefore been keen to bring to the fore the necessity of a strong feed-in tariff offering rates which will make solar investment a healthy, viable alternative to fossil fuels.

NFRC are fully aware of the potential impact of photovoltaic technology (PV) on both roofing, and construction in general as more and more private and public buildings are built with solar panels and PV tiles.

“The NFRC fully support the need for a robust feed-in tariff to encourage the uptake of solar in the UK. The time has come for roofs to be active parts of a building to help meet the national CO2 targets, to provide a viable solution to meet challenging future building regulations, and to support a generation of new jobs for roofers who are eager to become involved in the emerging green economy. A strong FIT for solar will help tackle the triple challenge of credit, energy and climate,” commented Ray Horwood Chief Executive of NFRC.

According to a Solarbuzz market report, solar investment in the Czech Republic increased 17 fold since 2007 due to the strong feed-in tariff there. Last year 50.8 megawatts of solar plant were installed in the Czech Republic compared to just 3 megawatts in 2007 representing a huge increase in solar investment. The Czech solar market, although still small compared to the European renewable giants Germany and Spain, has grown exponentially since the introduction of a feed-in tariff in 2005.

The Czech feed-in tariff has been extremely successful at attracting investment as it pays the highest rate for renewable electricity of any other European tariff. Currently set at 12.79Koruny per unit of energy fed-in to the grid (44p), the rate makes solar investment a very viable option for investors looking to diversify their portfolios by moving towards green shares. In the light of the recent economic downturn and the drawing in of purse strings in most sectors, solar offers investors a yield on their investment protected by government legislation. The Prague government has set itself the target of reducing its carbon emissions by producing 8 per cent of its energy by renewable means by 2010 and will therefore look to protect the solar industry within its borders.

While the Spanish solar market is still 48 times bigger than that of the Czech Republic, the Spanish sector has experienced a slowing due to the reduction of the rate of its feed-in tariff when the 500 megawatt cap was reached bring the rate paid down from 0.42 euros to 0.32 euros. This fall in the feed-in tariff rate was reflected by a marked reduction in Spanish solar plant and provides a warning to governments looking to sustain a boom over a long period. Jenny Chase of New Energy Finance commented that,

“I know some developers that were in Spain are now in business school because the market’s over, and some have moved to the Czech Republic”.

The Spanish example of the shrinkage after the initial 2007 boom will provide a warning to governments looking to implement their own feed-in tariffs in the near future. Certainly, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will implement the feed-in tariff in the UK by the end of 2010 and are currently undergoing consultancy as to how to finance the tariff. Industry insiders have petitioned the government demanding at least a 40p/unit rate for electricity fed-in to the grid over a long term period of around 20 years. The Czech government have been extremely successful thus far and will continue to use their tariff system to attract investment in solar.