Solar thermal heating systems could be something of a common sight on south-facing roofs in the UK with the introduction of a feed-in tariff. Previously, the high cost of solar thermal kits has put off householders wishing to invest in renewable energy generation but with the announcement of the introduction of feed-in tariffs for solar thermal in the UK in April 2011, solar thermal installation is set to become much more attractive.

The government’s feed-in tariff scheme to be called the Renewable Heat Incentive, will work by offering small-scale producers of renewable energy premium rates over a period of around 25 years for units of energy fed back into the national grid. Feed-in tariffs have been successful in countries such as Germany where they have proved to be an extremely effective way of off-setting the high costs of investing in solar power equipment.

Germany saw a massive uptake in all types of solar energy generation with tariff schemes rendering investments viable in the face of competition from traditional fossil fuel sources. For more information on how the tariff legislation is broken down year by year all of the information is available on

In the UK, the essential figures are that homeowners wishing to invest in a typical £5000 solar thermal kit for their properties can hope to expect healthy returns on investment of around £500 p/a over a period of around 25 years not including the average £100 saving on utility bills per year. Such returns and savings are the basis of the tariff scheme and is hopeful that these incentives will be sufficient to help the UK solar industry take off.

Through the installation of roof mounted solar panels, the sun’s energy is absorbed by the panel’s in-built technology which in turn is used to heat the water. The hot water is pumped through storage cylinders where it is heated further, providing households with south-facing roofs a good supply of hot water through the summer months and a contribution to water heating energy through the gloomier seasons.

Households aside, the government is also hopeful that the tariff legislation will bring about a grassroot change in attitude towards green energy as a whole and see technologies such as solar thermal become commonplace rather than an exceptional sight in the UK. is already hopeful that with the obvious environmental benefits of utilising renewable energy sources along with the financial incentives built in to green energy schemes, the UK is set to follow in the footsteps of what are generally regarded to be the ‘greener’ nations such as Germany and Sweden. Households and community projects will all be set to capitalise on the feed-in tariff in the coming years with cash savings, investment yields and carbon emission reduction providing ample rewards for investors and communities.

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