Posts tagged with: Kevin Langley

The UK government announced this week that it will roll out smart meters by 2020 and is currently going through a consultancy that will last until July. The introduction of the new high-tech metering system will bring an end to estimated energy bills and will make the growth of micro-generation much easier as it will allow monitoring of energy being consumed and fed-in to the grid.

For supporters of the proposed feed-in tariff, set to be introduced next year, this will also be an encouraging indication that the government is putting in place the infrastructure capable of dealing with the complexities of energy feed-in tariff monitoring. The Department of Energy and Climate Change declared the announcement as a ‘key-step’ in the move towards an intelligent grid system which will be of benefit to energy producers, micro-generators and consumers alike.

Micro-generation of energy across the UK will be kick started by the introduction of feed-in tariffs in 2010 as they will provide a fixed contract, guaranteeing a premium rate for small scale renewable producers feeding energy in to the national grid. The new smart meters and the technology involved will enable the monitoring of energy consumption and of course the energy fed in to the grid in order to make tariff payments accurate. Because of the increased potential for analysis of energy usage, smart meters will see the end of estimated bills and blanket tariffs which offer no rewards to consumers with energy conservation and climate change in mind.

Ed Milliband, Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced,

“The meters most of us have in our homes were designed for a different age, before climate change. Now we need to get smarter with our energy. Smart meters will empower all consumers to monitor their own energy use and make reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions as a result.

They will also mean the end of inaccurate bills and estimated meter readings. This is a big project affecting 26 million homes, and several million businesses, so it’s important we design a system that brings best value to everyone involved.”

The smart meter roll out, thought to be a step towards a fully integrated smart grid will be a huge tool in the introduction of the tariff system next year. The take up of renewable energy micro-generation in homes and business along with a cultural move towards carbon emission reduction will indeed herald smart meter technology as an important means for the government to meet its climate change targets in the next ten years.

The West Wales Eco Centre have teamed up with The Environmental Network for Pembrokeshire (TENP) to organize an international feed-in tariff which is set to be the first of its kind held in the UK. The conference, to be held in Llandissilio, Pembrokeshire on the 21st of May will highlight the key features of the UK government’s upcoming feed-in tariff legislation which will be implemented in 2010.

Specifically, the conference will demonstrate the practical implications for the new feed-in tariff legislation for small scale, renewable energy suppliers in Wales. The principle behind feed-in tariffs is that they attract investment in green technologies by offering incentives designed to offset the obvious additional costs involved in generating electricity by renewable means. Small scale renewable energy suppliers would therefore be offered fixed contracts with a guaranteed premium rate for units of energy fed-in to the national grid. The higher rate paid for these units of energy would be met by the large energy companies, a system which has been extremely successful elsewhere, particularly in Germany.

With the obvious benefits to investors in mind, the conference to be held at the Nant y Ffin Hotel will address the commercial advantages to those thinking about investing in renewable energy in West Wales and will demonstrate the advantages that the new policy will give to green projects across the country. The free event will be sure to attract interest from those still unsure about the new legislation and also investors planning to invest in the West Wales area.

The West Wales Eco Centre and TENP are planning to draw examples where similar feed-in tariff legislation has proved fruitful worldwide. In Germany, the success of renewable energy and in particular solar energy has been largely attributed the coherent tariff policy implemented there in order to attract investment. There will therefore be a presentation by Josef Pesch of Juwi Holding AG on the subject of the German experience of implementing feed-in tariffs. In order to clarify government policy, John Moriarty from the Department of Energy and Climate Change will address the conference on the development of the UK tariff legislation. From a practical and logistical point of view, Hugo House of Generation Marketing, Good Energy will talk about the implications of feed-in tariffs for the electricity industry and Gordon James, Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru will highlight the need for a decentralized grid in managing the flow of energy being fed-in to the grid.

The conference marks a major landmark in renewable energy in the UK and will highlight the tangible benefits and provide valuable information for an industry which is still in its infancy in this country. For more information visit

With the British government currently assessing the details of the feed-in tariff which is to be introduced in 2010, they will undoubtedly heed the example of Spain and the way in which the government there failed to live up to the initial expectations of the tariff. Spain, despite having one of the strongest photovoltaic sectors in the world, failed to capitalize on the successes of the solar industry there by changing the way PV investment was subsidized, something which has led to a steep decline in photovoltaic investment and installation in that country.

In conjunction with the global financial crisis which has taken a particularly strong hold of the Spanish economy, the reduction in solar investment has contributed to a culling of jobs and cutbacks in PV manufacturing in Spain, something which will see a surplus of PV plant being exported to growing solar sectors elsewhere in the world.

Industry insiders in the UK have put pressure on the government and lobbied the Department of Energy and Climate Change by expressing the importance of a feed-in tariff which stimulates sector growth by offering incentives and security to investors. It is generally accepted that a tariff rate of at least 20p per unit of electricity fed-in to the national grid by small scale energy suppliers would be sufficient in part to kick-start the solar industry in the UK following its inauguration in 2010.

Certainly, elsewhere where comprehensive feed-in tariff legislation has been introduced there have been marked successes in the uptake of photovoltaic technology and job creation in renewable industries. In Germany for example, the feed-in tariff legislation has proved to be consistent and generous in the provisions offered to those wishing to invest in the German green sector. Indeed, the German tariff model is often held up as an example of how to incentivise investment and build public awareness.

Spain is expected to experience 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 largely because the 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 follows 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 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.