Monthly archives: February 2011

British installation and delivery firm Avonline has launched a solar scheme designed to allow homeowners to benefit from free electricity and revenue from the feed-in tariff. The scheme launched back in January will mean that homeowners wishing to invest in solar panels will only have to put up part of the cost, the rest being met by SunShare. Sunshare estimates that typical households with roof mounted solar installations will earn around £1,000 per annum from money generated by the feed-in tariff.

The difference between the SunShare scheme and other free solar offerings is that with this, homeowners will be able to benefit from the revenue generated from feed-in tariffs as well as cheaper utility bills. Managing Director of Avonline, Mark Wynn commented that,

“Any household that’s looking for a guaranteed long-term investment will struggle to find a better option. Qualifying UK homes can get a fully-installed solar PV system for as little as £3,999. The homeowners who make this investment will subsequently reduce their electricity bills by up to 40%. They will be able to earn over £1,000 a year from feed-in tariff payments, add value to their home, protect themselves against escalating energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint, just to mention a few of the benefits.”

This model means that both the Household and SunShare will benefit from the revenues generated by the feed-in tariff scheme, a revenue share which certainly seems a lot fairer than ones proposed by other free offerings immediately following the introduction of the tariff last year. The feed-in tariff works by offering fixed, guaranteed rates for units of energy both utilised and fed back into the grid by small scale solar generators. Wynn certainly understands that while many people are keen to tap into the revenue stream from solar energy many find it a daunting task.

“Trying to take on the whole responsibility and costs for a solar installation for your home can be a daunting task and this may have put off quite a few households who considered benefiting from the feed-in tariff scheme last year. However, with a unique scheme like Sunshare, upfront installation costs for homeowners will be significantly reduced and a professional partner will take away all the hassle of the installation, ongoing maintenance and the continuous paperwork associated with the feed-in tariff throughout the duration of the scheme.”

An urgent campaign called ‘Power to Society’ ( has been launched today by Low Carbon Solar following the Coalition Government’s backtracking over funding for community scale solar energy schemes. The campaign site provides an easy way for the public and landowners to register their support for solar energy and to write to their MP urging the Government to shelve plans for an early review of pre-set Feed-in-Tariffs and to protect these community schemes

The community scale schemes that have been thrown into doubt could provide electricity to tens of thousands of homes and business, and put at risk the ability of the UK to meet its climate change targets which require that 30% of our electricity must come from renewables by 2020, up from just 7% today.

The current Feed in Tariff (FiT) scheme encourages more renewable energy generation and applies to schemes of up to five megawatts (MW) – enough to meet the electricity needs of around 1,000 homes. However the proposed early review from the Government, coming a year earlier than expected, will look at projects that produce more than 50 kilowatts of electricity – effectively anything bigger than an average primary school roof. Small-scale solar installation is not going to deliver the renewable energy required, hence the need for community scale schemes. For example, figures from Cornwall Council show that at the current rates of domestic PV installation in Cornwall, it would take 107 years to install 100MW.

‘Power to Society’ promotes the wide-ranging benefits of community-scale solar schemes which typically located on the roofs of large buildings, on land not suitable for agricultural use and on non-utilised industrial or derelict sites. The benefits include the creation of new jobs, a diversified income for farmers and landowners, reduced energy costs for businesses and the provision of more secure and reliable energy for the UK. In addition for every community scale project Low Carbon Solar develops, it establishes a Parish Trust into which it proposes is paid a fixed sum per megawatt of power, every year for the life of the project. In the case of a 5MW site that would be £25,000 a year for 25 years, or £625,000. Low Carbon Solar also champions local community ownership of sites so that people can benefit from long term revenue from these developments.

Mark Shorrock, CEO of Low Carbon Solar and the driving force behind Power to Society, said: “In pulling back on a commitment to support solar energy, the Government will cause the abandonment of scores of ‘Big Society’ community-owned schemes and hundreds of other developments that could have seen individual parishes benefit from up to £25,000 every year and more local jobs created.

“The ill-conceived and dangerously short-sighted proposals will have further unintended consequence, including the Government missing a European target of generating 30% of electricity from renewables by 2020, and therefore incurring significant fines. We urge people to support the case for solar and sign up to Power to Society now.”

For more information contact:

Andrew Baud, Kate Habberley or Catherine McNulty

01295 788655
07775 715775

About Low Carbon Solar:

Low Carbon Solar, based in Cirencester, is the development arm of Low Carbon Group and was founded in 2010 with the desire to take renewable energy projects out to local communities. For more information please visit

The backlash of the proposed review of the UK solar feed-in tariff has begun and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has now joined the debate. With the UK touted as a potential pv powerhouse of the future, the EPIA has delivered the warning that ongoing tariffs are absolutely essential for the growth and ultimate survival of solar energy in this country.

The feed-in tariff scheme was introduced in April 2010, designed as a mechanism for attracting investment in solar energy schemes, particularly roof mounted solar projects for households. The feed-in tariff works by offering fixed, premium rates for renewable energy both utilised and fed-back into the national grid by small scale generators. Tariff schemes like the one introduced in the UK last year have proved successful at incentivising investment in energy sectors which have prviously been unattarative to significant start up costs. The tariffs off-set these costs through healty yields on investments paid out by the tariff mechanism.

Elini Despotou, Secretary General of the EPIA commented,

“In times of economic crisis, it is essential to encourage the development of a promising sector such as photovoltaic’s which can create thousands of local jobs. The UK should raise its ambition and widely deploy PV, a decentralized well proven renewable electricity generation technology. According to estimates by EPIA, UK has been identified as having the fifth largest technical potential for PV in Europe. The UK also has significant existing manufacturing as well as new opportunities.”

While the UK certainly does have a huge potential, something reflected in the Ernst & Young solar attractiveness indices, the continuance and government support of the feed-in tariff will be fundamental to the survival and continued growth of solar pv. The EPIA assessment of feed-in tariffs will be reflected throughout the industry with a unanimous desire for a viable feed-in tariff capable of attracting manufacturers and investors to UK solar pv.

The early review of the UK solar feed-in tariff has caused consternation within the industry, still in its infancy and reliant on the tariff for log term viability. Chris Huhne, Secretary of the Department of Energy and Climate Change made the announcement this week that the FIT would be reviewed in light of the “threat” to the scheme posed by large scale solar projects which have begun to take advantage of the scheme. This combined with the recent spending review which will make it necessary to cut 10 per cent from the tariff rates.

The feed-in tariff was introduced as a means of attracting investment in solar energy and greatly increasing uptake in solar pv panels in the UK. The tariff works by offering guaranteed, premium rates for units of energy both consumed and fed back into the grid for small scale renewable energy producers. This tariff has been very successful at attracting investors and manufacturers alike, all keen to tap into the revenue which can be generated from the feed-in tariff. However, Huhne believes that the feed-in tariff has perhaps been too attractive with a number of large solar farms developing under the system. The DECC secretary stated,

“Since the Spending Review, I have become increasingly concerned about the prospect of large scale solar PV projects under FITs, which . . . could, if left unchecked, take a disproportionate amount of available funding or even break the cap on total funding,”

Solar Trade Association spokesman, Howard Johns lamented this news saying,

This is really bad news for the solar industry in the UK. Last week Ministers welcomed the study showing that 17,000 jobs would be created by the industry in 2011. This week has seen them once again changing the goal posts and threatening investment and jobs in the sector.”