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Monthly archives: September 2009

Solar Feed In Tariff is working with a leading figure in the Solar Investment market to bring to you a stunning new investment product.

This is an opportunity for Investors to purchase a Solar Bond for 10,000 Euros that pays an annual income of 10% for five years and a full capital repayment.

Subscriptions to the bonds are available until end of November 2009.

The investment opportunity is to purchase a solar energy bond from a solar installation. The installation is operational with complete permits and licenses, utility contracts, maintenance, insurance and company administration.

Each bond costs 10,000 Euros and pays a fixed interest of 10% per annum for five years and a full capital repayment.

Spain has been one of the most successful countries in the public promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources (RES-E) , particular ly wind electricity. This support has been based on a feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme. Although the basic structure of the system was implemented in 1998, it has been modified in 2004 and 2007.

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Spain gives perhaps the best case example of how a strong feed-in tariff system can either make or break the solar industry in which it is introduced. The Spanish feed-in tariff (FIT) was designed as a mechanism for incentivising investment in solar installations and was introduced in 2007. Traditionally, the high cost of solar plant and installation deterred investors who identified that despite the high levels of solar radiation across the Iberian Peninsular, yields would be minimal at best simply due to high initial outlays.

The FIT is a system which guarantees fixed, premium rates for solar producers who feed electricity in to the national grid. The high rate paid for each unit of electricity is met by the utility companies who in turn spread that cost over their customers. Therefore, in Spain with the introduction of the tariff system in 2007 with the rate of 0.44 euros offered for units of energy fed-in to the grid by solar producers the interest generated in the Spanish photovoltaic (PV) market was overwhelming. Indeed, combined with extensive coverage from the Spanish media along with Zapatero’s PSOE government’s commitment of making Spain the leading producer of solar energy in Europe by 2020, there was a phenomenal boom in the PV sector with the number of solar installations rising dramatically.

The UK government and in particular the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) since passing the Energy Act in 2008 have been moving towards a similar tariff system and in June 2009 announced that they would introduce a Clean Energy Cash Back system in the first quarter of 2010. In order to do so, they have undertaken a meticulous consultancy process in order to ensure that the mechanism which is introduced does exactly what it is intended to do i.e. make the UK solar industry strong and viable in the long term by attracting investment in the young sector. Spain certainly offers an example of how to attract investment in the short term. However, the Spanish example also offers stark examples of how not to set up a tariff system for long term industry health. The essential problem with the feed-in tariff which was established in Spain was that it was unable to cope with market fluctuations which arose as a result of the initial success of the tariff.

A recent report by the New York Times highlighted the failings of the Spanish solar legislation. Problems stemmed from the fact that politicians expected a steady stream of investment over a period of years. However, the massive interest which was generated in the fledgling industry encouraged a wave of investment in the first few months. The massive take up of solar installations was unexpected and caused the Spanish government to reduce solar incentives by 30 per cent without warning. Because the Spanish feed-in tariff failed to be market responsive, many investors who had already ordered deliveries of solar product from China, were left in the situation that they had no market in which to install it. With regards to the Spanish legislation, Julie Blunden of SunPower Corp was quoted in the New York Times,

“The most important lesson, which everyone has learned, is that if you’re going to establish a feed-in tariff, you need to figure out how to make it market-responsive.”

This will be the key lesson for the British government, how to introduce legislation which encourages growth in the new solar industry without setting a tariff level which is too high. In Spain, the government’s level of 0.44 euros was artificially high and therefore created the problem of an influx of investment which the government could not manage. Therefore, when the PSOE government reduced incentives by 30 per cent with many investors having already ordered large quantities of solar plant from manufacturing bases in China, the proverbial rug was pulled right from under them. Talking specifically about the legislation changes which had the detrimental effects on the Spanish PV market Santiago Seage, the CEO of Abengoa Solar SA commented on the situation saying,

“What’s important for the regulation of solar is stability. Unfortunately, up to now, we have had too many changes and if the context changes, you can make mistakes in business decisions.”

Spain has already experienced a dramatic reduction in photovoltaic installation in 2009 with 375MW compared to 2008 installations of 2,500MW. Spain will now fail to live up to its ambitions of becoming the European Union’s leading renewable energy producer by 2020 essentially because Zapatero’s government has neglected the tariff scheme across the country. The introduction of a 500MW project cap along with the withdrawal of essential subsidies has seen the solar industry stagnate and since the new year, decline. Members of the solar industry in the UK will therefore be hoping that the British government emulates the example of Germany rather than Spain in the way that they choose to roll out the much talked about feed-in tariff next year.

The We Support Solar group has launched a campaign for the government to add 10p to the proposed feed-in tariff, set to be implemented in the first quarter of 2010. The introduction of a UK feed-in tariff was set out by the government in July and has given the We Support Solar group some cause for concern regarding the long term effectiveness of making the UK solar industry competitive with those of Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic. In a move set to highlight certain deficiencies in the proposed tariff legislation the We Support Solar website is currently urging people to petition MPs via their website with suggestions for the tariff before the consultation period finishes within the next few weeks.

The main concern among the solar industry lobby, most vociferously voiced by the members of We Support Solar, is that the rate paid by energy companies for electricity by means of solar energy will not be high enough to attract investment in the new UK sector. Indeed, the We Support Solar website has quoted that a failure to act on this particular piece of legislation would see the UK fail to catch up with its EU competitors on solar installation.

Citing the benefits of adding 10p to the proposed feed-in tariff the We Support Solar website claims the following advantages for the UK economy:

  • 28,000 UK skilled solar power jobs by 2014
  • Over 400,000 new residential solar PV installations by 2014
  • Additional investment in UK solar PV manufacturing building on established centres in Wrexham, South Wales and County Durham

 

Certainly, with the announcement from Downing Street this year that Gordon Brown is planning to instigate a ‘green new deal’, using new renewable energies to revitalise the flagging economy, government action following the consultancy process will be under the microscope. The online campaign ultimately requests that MPs contact Ed Milliband, Secretary of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to lay out these specific demands. Whether or not the government does act to introduce a truly workable tariff system will determine whether recent rhetoric represents a real desire to fight climate change or merely court the ‘green’ lobby at a difficult time for Brown’s premiership.

For more information on the campaign, please visit:

http://wesupportsolar.net/act-now/

The date has been announced for the ‘Introduction to solar markets and technology’ course to be held in London between 14 & 15 October 2009. The Green Power Academy which will be hosted in conjunction with the highly successful Green Power Conferences will seek to shed some light on the essential basics of the emerging UK photovoltaic (PV) industry.

The course will offer information and debate on the various commercial advantages which potentially be gained from the solar industry. Highlighting case examples, figures and various business models, attendees will have an opportunity to analyze and compare the different options available to those planning on investing in the UK solar industry. Similarly, the conference will provide detailed and expert evaluations of the various ways of harnessing the sun’s energy for the purposes of energy generation. With a focus on both PV and solar thermal technologies the presentations will give advice as to the respective advantages and disadvantages of each technological field.

Regarding photovoltaic technology the course will cover key areas such as PV material and design looking at the components involved in the manufacture of these materials. From a manufacturing point of view, attendees will be given information on the procurement of solar material along with the costs involved with supplies. Information about grid connectivity and efficiency will all be given using relevant case examples giving attendees a valuable insight into how the PV market has worked elsewhere.

The thermal solar market will be looked at giving specific information regarding Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and Thermal Energy Storage (TES) solutions for the market and ideas as to where it will be moving in the future. Case studies and figures will be used to give ideas as to the various benefits this technology will provide for potential investors in this sector. The sector will also be analyzed in terms of future market trends and of course regulations which could effect the industry in the future.

Green Power Academy has a history of successful renewable energy courses and will continue the trend in London next month. Dr. John Massey, the training director for the course will use his extensive experience in the solar industry to offer attendees an invaluable resource whether they be new to the industry or new investors wishing to join the emerging sector in its infancy.

If you wish to find out more about this event please visit:

www.greenpoweracademy.com