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With the details of the much anticipated (and much debated) UK feed-in tariff announced, discussions are already taking place as to whether the rates will suffice to kick start the fledgling solar industry in Britain.

With the UK as one of the last major countries in the EU to implement a feed-in tariff mechanism as a means of boosting solar investment attractiveness, we have already given the opinion on this website that the government seems to be taking reals steps towards a viable renewable energy economy.

Praise

Coming under praise following the government’s lengthy consultation process have been key features of the tariff mechanism such as 25 year lifespan which will help to secure investments, inflation linkage , and calculations that the average annual ROI for sub 4kW installations will be around 7-8%.

With European tariff models having already pioneered the way through trial and error, it seems that the UK government has taken heed of some of the potential pitfalls that can harm the effectiveness of feed-in tariff mechanisms.

Certainly, in their annual Solar Attractiveness Indices, Ernst & Young consistently look favourably upon those nations with strong, long term tariff rates which offer security and real value to money for investors. With the recently announced tariff details it certainly appears that everything is in place for a strong solar industry to develop in the UK as investors are enticed by the opportunities of this new market.

With a history of incentivising renewable micro-generators, energy suppliers, Good Energy are well aware of the benefits that can be achieved from the recently announced feed-in tariff system, with CEO Juliet Davenport commenting that,

“Good Energy has shown for many years that financial incentives work on a commercial scale, benefiting generators at minimal cost to the energy consumer when delivered effectively.”

Solar thermal potential

The announced details of a further thermal tariff to be implemented next year also seem to have exceeded most expectations with regards to the solar thermal industry in the UK.

Tariffs offered for micro-generation using solar thermal technology will significantly boost the UK solar thermal industry as Chief Executive of Micropower Council Dave Sowden has stated,

“We particularly welcome the significant boost given to heat technologies such as solar thermal and heat pumps, and the recognition by Government of the crucial role microCHP is going to play in reducing carbon emissions for those with gas-fired central heating,”

Criticism

Unsurprisingly, criticism has been voiced from environmental campaign group and strong advocates of widespread renewable energy use Friends of the Earth (FOE).

With the government having set a target of generating 10 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, there is a concern that not enough is being done to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. While solarfeedintariff.co.uk amongst others have been happily surprised by the tariff announcement, FOE maintains that the rates will not be sufficient to attract investment in the industry in the face of strong competition from abroad. FOE campaigner Dave Timms has commented that,

“Installing renewable technologies will now be a good investment for many homes – but farmers, businesses, communities and others will get little or no extra incentive to invest in clean electricity.”

FOE maintain that in order for the UK solar industry to take off, just as the German industry did, the return on investment will have to be more around the 10 per cent mark rather than the 6-7 per cent figure in order to attract the levels of investment required to render the industry viable in the long term.

Solarfeedintariff.co.uk believes that the UK has a great role to play in the future of renewable energy generation and that with the feed-in tariff in place, 2010 is going to be a very exciting year.

If you are interested in what the tariff could mean for your home or business, or want information on the investment potential of solar in the UK, this website will be regularly updated with news and investment products to meet your needs.

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