Posts tagged with: uk solar investments

The uptake in solar panels on the back of the feed-in tariff mechanism is creating excitement amongst industry insiders in the UK. Indeed, recent announcements about impressive growth figures from such firms as Solar Century have perpetuated a general feeling of optimism about the future of solar energy in the UK. Soon to invest in the UK PV market are Inventux Technologies and Abound Solar. Both of these companies have recently received their MCS (Microgeneration Certification scheme) certificates and are ready to invest in the UK. Moves like this are sure to be followed by other solar manufacturers, creating jobs and bringing the UK closer to the much hyped ‘green revolution’ expounded by politicians across the globe.

The solar feed-in tariff works by offering guaranteed, premium rates for units of renewable energy both used and fed back into the grid by small scale solar pv generators. The tariffs were introduced as a way of encouraging investment in what have historically been expensive projects to set up – solar PV. The scheme has already been successful in bringing about an increased uptake in solar panels through a variety of projects being set up by fledgling and indeed, more experienced installers.

A number of projects under way; most typically employing the model whereby the solar company installs the panels on the homeowners roof free, allowing the homeowne to benefit from vastly reduced utility bills over the life-time of the project. The solar company benefits over the life-time of the project from the revenue, generated by the feed-in tariff. While homeowners have the option of buying out the contracts, such schemes have been criticised in some circles as being grossly unbalanced with regards to the profits made by the companies compared to the monetary savings made by the homeowners. Nevertheless, such projects have proved popular over the last 10 months and all evidence suggests that they will continue to prosper until tariff rates are cut as part of a government review.

Inventux and Abound are buying into this market, aware that the aforementioned buoyancy us based on the government’s tariff scheme and without it, the UK solar pv industry would be unviable. Inventux who specialise in micromorph silicon thin-film modules have already announced that they are involved in projects in the UK and will continue to grow their UK operations so long as tariff mechanisms make it a sustainable operation. Similarly, Abound with its CdTe thin-film modules is hoping to expand into the UK market by building relationships with already established UK installers. However, both companies will be aware from past examples that where feed-in tariffs are in place, there is no guarantee of long term success – this of course is in the hands of the governement.

UK farmers have been able to benefit from feed-in tariffs but as the government plans to review the sum paid for solar energy in 2012, now is the time to invest. The British government introduced feed-in tariffs under the guise of the Clean Energy Cash back scheme back in April and was designed as a way of boosting investment in solar photovoltaic (pv) energy which would help the UK meet climate change targets through the reduction of carbon emissions.

The feed-in tariff works by offering guaranteed, premium rates for units of energy both used and fed back into the grid from small scale solar pv generators. Where they have been implemented elsewhere, they have proved to be very effective mechanisms at incentivising investment in what were once expensive projects. However, government plans to reduce the rate of energy paid to solar pv generators after 2012 means that now is the time for UK farmers to take full advantage of the profits from solar panels.

Many landowners are already taking advantage of the tariff rate which guarantees a rate of 29.3p/kWh for units of energy generated from their solar panels. Certainly, with projects lasting for 25 years, there will be some very healthy profits to be made, something which has not gone unnoticed within the industry. Regen South West are just one example of solar energy specialists involved in rural solar projects. Chief Executive Merlin Hyman has described such projects as an ‘exciting opportunity’ and that they can offer,

“Essentially it is a guaranteed income for 25 years with a better return than if you were to put money in the bank at the moment. But it needs to be in the right place and on the right sites.”

The emphasis of finding the right sites has been echoed throughout the industry. Also, there has been a focus on the need to avoid fly by night installers keen to make a quick Buck and run in the great UK solar Klondike.

This is a view supported by solar pv exponents, Mole Valley Farmers who have their own demonstration solar site set up on their director’s land and are offering open day invites. Business Development Manager at Mole Valley, Andy Taplin has warned that,

“We are aware of lots of businesses popping up and calling themselves solar energy experts, what we’re trying to do is prevent businesses profiteering from our members.

Going on to add, “our main concern is that for these investments to work the solar panels need to last for 25 years to profit from the feed-in tariff — Mole Valley Farmers will be here in 25 years’ time, but I’m not sure some of these solar panel companies will be around once the gold rush is over.”

The BBC website yesterday released a business article showing that all is not doom and gloom in the financial world. Certainly, while we are told that Britain is set to reel under the dramatic public sector spending review of the coming months, farming at least has the potential to benefit financially from the government’s solar feed-in tariff scheme. has been a keen exponent of the tariff system both home and abroad for the last three years as a way of making solar projects viable, profitable and of course, a long term alternative to other unprotected investments. Now, as the BBC has reported, it is now the turn of forward thinking farm owners to cash in on the tariff scheme which pays small scale producers of solar photovoltaic energy a fixed, premium rate both for the energy they use and feed back into the national grid.

On a BBC website laden with news of the scrapping of the Ark Royal, cutting the Housing budget and the Spending Review, it is good news for a young and growing UK photovoltaic industry that high profile media outlets are now regularly running with solar feed-in tariff case studies. Never one to shy away from the media, Glastonbury festival entrepreneur Michael Eavis plays a prominent role throughout the article, highlighting the very simple financial rewards involved in investing in solar. Indeed, in an industry often reluctant to change Eavis provides perhaps the best example of how farmers can increase profits through investing in new areas, in his case, Rock Festivals and Solar panels.

With a number of solar pv companies now vying to tap into the burgeoning solar market on British farms, landowners will have no shortage in sourcing panels in order to start tapping in to the tariff scheme. The BBC article, rich with quotes from suppliers stressing difficulty in keeping up with demand at the moment, highlights that, once the revenue generation model of solar pv becomes better understood and widely accepted, then the potential for long term profits in UK rural solar projects will continue to go from strength to strength.

For more information on how you could benefit from the solar feed-in tariff, please contact: