News

Posts tagged with: micro-renewables

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has joined the growing list of companies offering solar photovoltaic (PV) schemes to its customers. The SSE solar PV scheme will harness the feed-in tariff to enable its customers to benefit from free electricity generated by the solar panels installed on their roofs. The plan which will see SSE install panels for free on roofs found to be suitable for solar energy follows in the footsteps of a number of other businesses currently running free energy schemes.

The feed-in tariff enables small scale solar pv generators to benefit from guaranteed, premium rates set out by the legislation. In the case of the SSE scheme, households will benefit from free electricity by having solar panels installed on their roofs. Speaking as National Development Manager for SSE, Alan Evans said,

“The introduction of feed-in tariffs (FiT) has changed the economics of micro-renewable generation in a very positive way. However, for many customers the initial outlay required to benefit from these tariffs is still too great. SSE has set up this deal to ensure that there is no outlay by the customer and that they will benefit from free electricity as soon as the system is connected.”

Of course, the greater benefit is for SSE micro-renewables who are able to benefit both from the solar panels and feed-in tariff over the project’s 25 year lifespan. Indeed, the 25 year tariff will enable SSE to benefit from 41.3p per kilowatt hour for electricity generated by the panels and 3p per kilowatt for energy fed back into the grid. With this scheme in place it is expected that a typical household adopting the solar scheme could save around £130 a year on their electricity bill.

Emphasising the benefit to his customers, Evans went on to add,

“Customers also have the reassurance that their contract is with one of the UK’s largest energy companies, with a track record of installing solar PV that extends over more than five years and is backed up by an excellent reputation for customer service.”

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 renewable energy industry has warned that the renewable energy sector risks failing in its infancy if the proposed closure of the micro-renewables fund, worth £50m goes ahead. The possible loss of funds along with the news that feed-in tariffs will not be introduced until 2010 has concerned some members of the industry who have lobbied the government for essential funds, crucial to the development and investment in small, renewable installations.

Ed Milliband, Secretary of the newly formed Department of Energy and Climate Change announced that all funding for low carbon public sector buildings will be withdrawn from June 2009. The scheme, called the Low Carbon Buildings Program (LCBP) has, until now paid up to half of all costs incurred in the installation of micro-renewable facilities in public sector buildings and has been absolutely essential for covering the inevitable cost of installing renewable energy plant.

Philip Wolfe, Director of REA criticised the government proposal stating, “The government rightly talks about a green jobs revolution, but these initiatives will be strangled at birth if the companies that deliver them have no market in the meantime.”

Lobbyists are arguing that the government should continue the funding program at least until the introduction of feed-in tariffs in order that the industry, in particular manufacturers of heating units do not collapse. The proposed feed-in tariff will help renewable investors by guaranteeing a fixed, premium rate for power fed-into the national grid. The premium rate paid for the green megawatts will be paid for by existing power companies and will offset the expense of generating power by renewable means. In places such as California, Germany and Australia this scheme has been extremely successful as a way of attracting investment.

The importance of the LCBP and the vitality it provides to the industry was highlighted by Ray Noble, ex UK head of BP Solar, “Before, there was about £8-10m worth of funding per year. The LCBP nearly tripled the amount.”