Posts tagged with: micro-generation

Germany, perhaps the greatest success story for solar energy and a leading exponent and pioneer of the now widely employed feed-in tariff is seriously considering re-thinking its backing of renewable energy. Cuts in German feed-in tariffs while not welcomed by solar investors or those simply looking to make a quick Euro in green energy, are of course necessary and an important mechanism in regulating what can be an explosive sector.

Feed-in tariffs work by offering fixed, premium rates for renewable energy generated and used by small scale generation projects. While Germany has been a world leader in solar energy generation on the back of generous tariffs, it now seems that it in the current climate of austerity, the German government is perhaps rethinking its legislative bias towards green energy projects.

In a statement issued by Environment minister Norbert Roettgen, it certainly appears that the current stance is unequivocally pragmatic when it comes to backing solar energy over more traditional fuel sources. Indeed, pragmatism turned Teutonic bluntness when questioned on plans to further reinforce legislation designed at boosting solar investment,

“We’re in talks with the solar power sector to come to a reasonable further development. Those who want renewable energy should keep in mind that there is a need for society’s acceptance of it,”

Of course, while there is a need to regulate the the solar market in order to prevent a situation similar to Spain where the market became saturated, the fact remains that feed-in tariffs do not come out of the public funds. Instead, they come from the big utility companies obliged by legislation to purchase the units of renewable energy at the rate set by the tariff. This goes to add weight to the argument against reducing tariffs too drastically in Germany. Certainly, protectionism of certain industries at the expense of others is questionable but the figures for renewable energy in Germany speak for themselves.

Reports from the German finance ministry have shown that the revenue from renewable manufacturers alone came to over 16 billion Euros in 2009. In the same year around 294,000 Germans were employed in renewable energy with 64,000 of these working in solar energy. With these employment figures in mind and the fact that in Germany there is a real appetite for renewable energy investment, it would be politically naïve for any government to make too dramatic a cutback to tariff rates, even during these times of draconian spending measures.


Here at Solarfeedintariff we like everybody to share their feelings on solar energy. One of our readers has been kind enough to give his thoughts on his new solar system and the report is below. Please feel free to submit any articles you feel would help educate the world on solar energy.

We have an unshaded South West facing roof at about 45o angle.  We had scaffolding for some quite substantial roof work, so decided to use the opportunity to have PV panels installed.  Because of a dormer, we had little space and could accommodate only four panels, mounted horizontally, giving us a maximum of just less than 1kw. The supplier was a JHS, a small company in Banbury.

The inverter gives a reading of the current power and total units each day – this gives lots of opportunities for taking readings and doing all sorts of nerdy analysis. Over the first four weeks (July) we are averaging 3.5 units per day.  On about the 15 August the sun will actually hit the panels square on at one point in the day – will this be the best day overall?   Facing SW, the panels do not see the sun at all until after 11 am (BST), until that time we generate more power from bright clouds than blue sky.  Hence it is ideally white cloud until mid morning and then sun – although we do get several hundred watts from bright white clouds.

Getting ourselves registered through our utility company (SSE) took a bit of effort.  The web-site was uninformative, emails were not replied to and I did not have the patience to wait for them to answer telephones.  Writing a letter worked, we were put in touch with the ‘microgeneration’ department and now have a feed-in contract.  There does not yet seem to be a formal scheme for submitting readings of our solar generation, we are asked just to write or email the reading every three months.

There are four ways you save money, three of them legal.  (i) The feed-in tariff, 41.3p per unit generated is very generous.  (ii) For the power you actually use while being generated, you obviously save on your electricity bill – around 11p per unit.  (iii) They also assume (they cannot measure, without extra equipment) that 50% of your power goes back into the grid, effectively this gives you get an extra 1.5p per unit generated.  (iv) If you have an old fashioned meter, the little wheel goes backwards  when you are not using all the power, and this drives the meter backwards – the effect of this is that you are saving 11p per unit on all the power you generate, not just that you use.  I suppose the utility company knows this – the meter does belong to them!

Our installation cost around £6000.  Will we get out money back?  Well at my age (67) maybe not, but we should see a substantial saving each year – and  it’s all been very interesting.

C J Pavelin July 2010

With the growing global trend towards renewable energy Britain is finally taking the first fundamental steps towards large scale micro-generation of electricity. With the UK government’s announcement that they will be going ahead with the development of a 100 billion pound wind farm in a giant off shore project, the UK is set to continue as Europe’s leading exponent of wind energy.

However, with wind representing a mere 0.5% of Britain’s energy generation, the future for wind and other important renewable energy means will come in the form of households producing their own electricity with small scale micro-generation kits, installed on their property.

These such small scale endeavours, while initially expensive, have been rendered viable through the announcement of the imminent introduction of a feed-in tariff which will offer homeowners ‘cash back’ for surplus renewable energy which is fed back into the national grid. In the UK, this financial incentive will come in the guise of the much anticipated ‘Clean Energy Cash Back’ scheme but elsewhere they have also proved successful at encouraging homeowners to install their own renewable energy kits.

Solar potential for UK households

Despite the gloomy skies and similarly murky outlook for the economy, the UK has the potential to become a competitive player in the world of micro-generation and emulate the leading light of renewable energy, namely Germany. Homeowners who may currently wish to invest in solar panels for their property have the twin hurdles of finance and confusion to overcome before parting with cash.

Fortunately, with regards to solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, investors will have the costs of installation (typically around 6000 pounds) softened through savings on energy costs; amounting to around 250 pounds p/a. Also, with cash back payments on surplus energy from the utility companies a typical household with a solar pv kit could hope to repay the initial outlay while at the same time saving around 1 tonne of carbon emissions p/a.

Similarly, solar thermal can prove costly to install with a typical homeowner having to spend around 4000 pounds on a kit but with the obvious advantages of tariff incentives helping to recoup capital outlay along with savings on energy bills. With the introduction of the Clean Energy Cash Back System in April, homeowners looking to make sound investments in their property will be investigating the potential of solar energy for their homes. The downside of new technology of course is the leap into the great unknown with unscrupulous agents, manufactuers and installers looking to capitalise on consumer naivity.

Fortunately is seeking to make investing in solar micro-generation simpler by offering a quotation service designed to eradicate the need for time consuming market research by offerig the latest, expert advice on the best option for your home. For more information on the solar quotation service, please visit:

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.