Posts tagged with: Solar Feed In Tariff

We stand presently in a state of transition. At the time of writing this article, the most lucrative residential solar power incentive ever to be offered in the United Kingdom is days from being cut in half. So what does this mean for those still considering purchasing a solar energy system for their home or property? Will the new rates kill off the residential market completely, or is there some tangible evidence of the investment remaining economically worthwhile? Let’s take a look.

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The new rates have been announced and the primary one to focus on for all residential sized installations is the now reduced Generation Tariff:

  • 4kW and >4kW Installations: 21 pence per kWh generated

This adds to the other two incentives that come from a) saving energy otherwise bought from the grid and b) exporting surplus when over-producing. The Export Tariff rate remains at the negligibly effective 3 pence per kWh, but exporting simply isn’t going to happen in the vast majority of households and properties. Of more importance is the savings rate will continue to reflect the price you pay per kWh from your energy retailer. This currently stands on average of 13 pence for residential properties.

So all in all, let’s conservatively say we are going to be generating solar kWh’s worth:

(21p Generation + 13p Savings) 24 Pence per kWh

Whilst this is a significant reduction in the previous tariff rates, if a few other factors come into play then solar installations will remain a worthy investment for many thousands of people.

Let’s have a look at some other factors that may determine the feasibility of solar installations for thousands of people across the UK.

Areas of Development and Promise

Reduction in Upfront Capital Outlay

The first and most immediate change that we will see in the residential solar industry is a substantial reduction in upfront cost of purchasing a solar energy system. This will involve not only less profit margins for their own businesses but better rates at which they buy components, in-house adaptations for scaffolding and accounts to avoid external expenditure, streamlining sales and marketing and essentially running as efficiently as possible.

We expect this to account for anywhere between a 15% to 35% drop in prices by the time we arrive at late January 2012. This means the most price competitive are set to get as low as £8,500 or even better. This alone would catalyse returns on investment to reach back to their 8%-12% mark, easily trumping rates achievable with bank savings accounts or ISA’s. Ultimately this in itself is enough to recreate interest from large numbers of home and residential property owners, but let’s consider some other possibilities that may work in tandem.

Community Groups

It is a common retail and purchasing philosophy that buying more of something results in a better price per unit. Solar power installations for residential properties are not alienable from this. Community groups that are geographically localised have a significant advantage in that they can receive discounts by purchasing a solar energy system collectively. So long as a reputable and knowledgeable organisational arm is employed to do this work, comparisons can be made across the local installers and the best possible deal brokered. This lowers the upfront capital costs for all involved on often sliding scales up to 20%. Solar Community Organisers here at Solar Selections are experts at organising and facilitating such an effort. Contact us today for more information.

Remote Power Opportunities

Whilst the majority of the population live in relative proximity to power plants and the main grid, properties that are on islands or over mountains usually pay much higher rates for their energy. In Australia, our parent company Solar Choice invented a unique approach to assisting communities in some of the more isolated regions of the land down under. Because they were paying more for their energy, their systems saved them more and the returns on investment improved. If you’re unsure about how much you’re paying for your energy, have a look at your bills or contact your energy provider.


A solar power system is a very straightforward, low maintenance and low risk investment once installed, and bank and credit institutions across Europe are warming to this slowly. At this point in the UK there are several commercial opportunities for finance from groups such as Barclays. Over time, residential markets will present another opportunity for banks to lend money and charge interest so the market is expected to open up. More information on this will become available as it comes out.


These suggestions are merely a handful of methods that the residential solar industry will utilise to adapt to the tariff changes. By watching the pricing and ensuring potential customers investigate all of the best prices available, consider organising a community  group and explore finance options, residential properties will find solar a worthwhile investment as soon as January 2012. For an up to date account of all the possibilities, contact Solar Selections today and speak to a dedicated member of staff.

Written by Jarrah Harburn

T: 0844 567 9835

© 2011 Solar Selections Ltd


The High Court has agreed to hear applications by Friends of the Earth and two solar companies – Solarcentury and HomeSun – for permission to challenge Government plans to slash financial incentives for solar electricity on Thursday 15 December 2011.

Confirmation of the hearing follows an earlier High Court ruling [Friday 25 November 2011] rejecting permission for a legal challenge. The organisations are now asking the High Court to reverse the decision and allow a hearing into the legal challenges as soon as possible.

Friends of the Earth is also asking the High Court to cap its potential legal costs for the case. International rules specify that costs should be limited in public interest cases on the environment.

The legal challenges centre around Government plans to slash feed-in tariff subsidies – payments made to households and communities that generate green electricity through solar panels – on any installations completed after 12 December this year. The Government is currently running a consultation into feed-in tariffs – but the 12 December cut-off point comes two weeks before the consultation ends. Friends of the Earth says this premature decision is unlawful and has already led to unfinished or planned projects being abandoned.

Solar is a growing, successful industry. The premature cuts could cost up to 29,000 jobs and lose the Treasury up to £230 million a year in tax income, a report commissioned by Friends of the Earth and Cut Don’t Kill – an alliance of solar firms and consumer and environmental organisations – revealed last month. Last week construction firm Carillion warned 4,500 workers their jobs are at risk because of the Government’s proposals.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“We strongly believe Government plans to abruptly slash solar subsidies are illegal, we hope the High Court agrees to allow our case to be heard as soon as possible.

“We’ve also asked the High Court to cap our potential costs. International rules say this should be allowed in public interest cases on the environment – we can’t afford to bring a challenge if we face unlimited liability for the other side’s legal fees.

“In a time of economic gloom, the solar industry has been one of the UK’s brightest success stories, enabling homes and communities across the country to free themselves from expensive fossil fuels.

“It’s short sighted for Ministers to move the goalposts and prematurely pull the subsidy – this will cost tens of thousands of jobs, bankrupt businesses and reduce Treasury income by up to £230m a year.”

As the Government’s solar energy Feed in Tariff is reduced to 21p per kilowatt generated, and the 2012 deadline brought forward; consumers have been left confused as to what this means for the future of solar energy in the UK.


Save Energy Renewables, part of the Save Energy Group, has been in the renewable energy sector since 2002, long before the government feed in tariff was introduced in April 2010.  The introduction of the tariff, at 41p per kilowatt generated, was designed to kick start the take up of renewable energy in the UK and bring us in line with leading European countries such as Germany.  In its second year the tariff increased to 43.3p, but was widely regarded by the industry as high and unlikely to sustain.


The tariff is reviewed on an annual basis and was due to change again from March 31st 2012, with much speculation as to what that might be.  The announcement came on the 31st October that the new figure would be reduced to 21p, however, what the industry was not expecting was the 12th December 2011 cut off point – fast-tracked from the original 2012 deadline.  Therefore, only solar PV systems installed and commissioned by this date would be eligible for the 43.3p tariff.  This put an unprecedented strain on the renewable energy industry, and will almost certainly result in many smaller companies, or those with a less than perfect infrastructure going out of business.


As to why this date was brought forward, lies heavily in the surge for ‘free solar’ with companies setting up to take advantage of the tariff by renting roof space from consumers who benefited from reduced energy bills, while they reap earnings from the tariff for the next twenty five years.  The budget put in place to assist homeowners simply ran out.


The new tariff rate of 21p is now set at a sustainable level for the long term. It will ensure the tariff is available for its predicted lifespan, until the cost of the energy rises to meet the percentage that can be earned through the tariff – namely grid parity.   Steve Randall, Sales & Marketing Director: “This is extremely good news and represents a very healthy 8-10% increasing return on investment for those who choose renewable energy as the way forward.  It also represents twice what can be achieved by the high street banks.  As a business we count ourselves among the lucky ones, with a strong infrastructure both logistically and financially.  As we have been in the business for over a decade we also have strong buying power with suppliers, savings we can pass to our customers.”


Solar energy has been embraced by the UK for many years due to the inevitable savings on energy bills.  The fact that the cost of energy will only rise will see consumers continue to do so with the added benefit of the feed in tariff which is all the more attractive here in the South which enjoys far longer hours of daylight than the North.


Steve Randall concludes:  “The best way for consumers to judge whether solar energy is for them is to look at their electricity bill today, and multiply that by the life of the tariff which is twenty five years.  The option is rent your energy at a rising cost per year, or take ownership of it today. There is further good news in the marketplace as we have seen product prices lower and level out, so when visitors come to our showroom we are able to share more attractive pricing terms.




Yesterday saw an explosion in productivity at the rumor mill regarding the solar energy Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and it’s impending review. With sources from all over the industry and high exposure media such as Financial Times jumping on board the scaremongering bandwagon, let’s take stock once again and remember the facts of where we are up to.

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The Feed-in Tariff Review

As we understand it, the Comprehensive Spending Review championing the government’s budget overhaul into spending includes a review of the solar FiT. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is the authority on this matter, and only their official release will bring about the changes and outline to what extent cuts will be made.

One thing that figures from Ofgem are highlighting is that installation rates are much higher than what they anticipated. The current rates cannot be sustained at this exponential growth level. The boom is most certainly in full swing, and the bust now appears to be approaching in all its foreboding and unstoppable glory.

“Unless Earlier Action is Deemed Necessary”

The DECC, in speaking with industry sources has released the following statement:

“As we’ve previously said, all tariffs in the scheme are being considered in the Comprehensive Review and we will be consulting on proposals later this year. We’ve made clear that tariffs will remain unchanged until April 2012 unless the review indicates the need for greater urgency. There has been no announcement about the review so any rumors about its content are just that, rumours and speculation.” (Source)

In simple terms, nothing has changed at this point and we are no closer to understanding exactly when they will. The media storm has cracked through the sky, but the underlying realities of our situation remain. There is little doubt that the review will decrease the FiT rate by some extent, and also increasingly less doubt that the changes will be brought about before April 2012.

The only concrete truths the industry has to offer are that if you’re installed prior to the changes you will receive an enviable rate on your solar power for many, many years. If you do not, you won’t.

Written by Jarrah Harburn

T: 0844 567 9835

© Solar Selections Pty Ltd 2011