Posts tagged with: roof mounted solar

On a rooftop in Suffolk there now sits a vast 500KW solar panel project which, much to the pleasure of the solar installation firm involved Going Solar and client, Debach Enterprises has been completed in advance of the August cut-off date for the current feed-in tariff rates. For projects completed after that date, tariff rates will be reduced as part of controversial reductions in the money paid out as part of the scheme. The £1.2m project would have fallen foul of the cutbacks in the tariff as it is over the 50KW threshold putting it in the large scale project bracket.

The 2,200 solar panel project completed by Going Solar will generate up to 440,000kw hours of electricity every year, enough to power the warehouse and provide a surplus to the national grid which as well as being enough energy to power 100 homes, will generate a healthy revenue stream via the tariff pay outs. The government’s cuts in the feed-in tariff come as they try to move the emphasis away from large scale solar farms and into smaller scale roof mounted solar projects. Going Solar Director Charles Houston believes that not all rooftop schemes should face the cuts and that size should not necessarily be a factor in precluding them from the tariff scheme.

“The consultation has only just been completed and we are arguing there is a case for treating rooftop installations differently. The government has a valid point trying to address large solar farms, but with rooftop installations the energy is often used on site and you are only using dead space that is up on a roof. If a business wants to cut its carbon by using that space then it should be encouraged to do so.”

Going Solar has announced that they will be focusing on solar thermal projects in the future with Houston going onto explain that,

“The Renewable Heat Incentive is about to make solar thermal collectors very attractive to schools, hotels and other sites with high water demand, while there is a real window of opportunity for 50kW solar installations. The feed-in tariff went up in April as it is linked to inflation and at the same time solar panel prices have come down. There is now an opportunity for businesses installing mid-sized projects to complete installations before the long track review of feed-in tariff likely recommends further cuts to come into effect from 31 March next year”.

 With the government and in particular Chris Huhne making it clear that they do not want the feed-in tariffs to be tapped into by large scale solar farms, the focus is very much on small scale roof mounted projects very much like the one just launched in Bournemouth. The scheme will see a number of council homes and schools across the seaside town fitted with solar voltaic panels, allowing them to benefit from savings on electricity bills as well as generate revenue from the tariff.

The feed-in tariff works by offering guaranteed, premium rates for units of electricity both utilised and fed back into the grid by small scale generators of renewable energy. The emphasis for the feed-in tariff is now well and truly on roof mounted solar projects where home owners are able to benefit from reduced utility bills and of course, in some cases a guaranteed revenue over the lifetime of the project. When the feed-in tariff was launched in April last year, the scheme being rolled out in Bournemouth is exactly what the DECC had envisaged as a way of reducing carbon emissions on a local level.

The Bournemouth solar project is being implemented in partnership between the local council and Mouchel and will create a number of jobs in the installation of the solar pv systems. Bournemouth councillor Peter Charon announced that,

“This is a fantastic scheme for the borough and clearly demonstrates our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint in Bournemouth. We are one of the first authorities in the South to install solar panels on our housing and other council buildings. I am delighted that Kingsleigh Primary School and Heathlands Primary School have elected to join the pilot scheme. Following on from the pilot we will be looking to roll it out to include all council housing, care homes and schools. The overall investment could potentially be £22million with £12million of savings by way of cheaper electricity bills and £15million by way of an income from the Government’s feed-in tariff.”

The doom and gloom of the British winter in January, while not particularly cold, certainly lacks the solar energy you would expect to generate enough electricity from solar panels. Planning to make the most of scant solar resources, a manufacturer of what are considered the most efficient solar units on the market has announced that they have received MCS accreditation and are ready to install in the UK.

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation is required before manufacturers can release their panels onto the UK market. Currently operational across the rest of continental Europe, the HIT series of pv cells produced by SANYO are a leader in energy conversion with a rate of around 21.6 per cent. This makes them a world leader in energy conversion efficiency and will certainly make them a sought after commodity throughout the British solar market.

The highly efficient HIT cells will operate under the feed-in tariff in the UK. The feed-in tariff is legislation which guarantees a fixed, premium rate for units of energy both used and fed back into the grid by solar micro-generators of less than 5kw. This means that British consumers will be able to benefit from increased revenues from solar panels able to generate more units of energy than competitor modules under the same solar conditions. The new panels which will become available from the 31st March 2011 will also mean that less roof space is required to generate energy, broadening the scope of households where solar installations are a viable option.

With the recent announcement that a number of foreign solar manufacturers are preparing to invest in the UK in order to take advantage of the feed-in tariff, the arrival of the HIT solar modules highlights how crucial the tariff legislation is in encouraging investment in our burgeoning renewable market. With the boost this will give to the economy in an already struggling manufacturing sector and job creation in green energy, hopefully Cameron’s government will take this on board and continue to give their backing to the legislation which makes UK solar energy viable in the long term.

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Ofgem’s Sustainable Development Focus has released figures showing that in the first 6 months of feed-in tariffs in the UK, over 11,000 generator have registered for the tariff, marking a considerable surge in solar photovoltaic installations in particular. Indeed, with 11,352 renewable systems installed, it indicates that the scheme has been more successful than predicted, with enough output to power around 35,000 homes.

Feed-in tariffs work by offering fixed, premium rates for both the energy generated from renewable systems (which is then fed-back into the grid), and the energy used. When first introduced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), it was with the intention of incentivising investment in green energy by off-setting the costs of installing renewable energy systems by creating long term, guaranteed yields from the projects. Emulating schemes applied successfully abroad, it seems that in the first 6 months of operation, the tariffs have certainly been effective as a means of boosting renewable installations across the UK.

In order to get the UK grid network fully up to speed with the complex requirements of a low-carbon economy, the Sustainable Development Focus Report also published its proposals for updating the country’s network. Working on a framework of Revenue= Incentives+ Innovation+ Outputs (RIIO), Ofgem is planning on generating £32 billion of investment much needed to upgrade a UK national grid not yet ready for green energy and the mechanisms set up around it.

Alistair Buchanan of Ofgem wrote in a foreword to the report,

“This is the biggest change to the regulatory framework for 20 years and sets the network companies on a path to playing their full role in the transition to a low-carbon economy while delivering value for money for all consumers.”