12 Jan 2011 05:01:05
Feed-in Tariff doubles solar PV uptake
Research from the government's energy regulator Ofgen last week reported a record number of homes plugging into the Feed-in Tariff scheme over the past 12 months. Since confirmation of the schemes continuation following George Osborne's autumn monetary review, confidence has increased in the domestic sector for uptake of renewable energy installations. In excess of 16,000 households are registered to the scheme after installation of solar photovoltage panels alongside 1,000 wind turbines and 150 hydro sites. This represents a 10 fold increase in uptake over the past year.
The scheme has greatly exceeded the government's expectation or budgeting, which means that it could become the victim of its own success. Under the current scheme, users participating in the Feed-in Tariff are paid between 29.3p and 41.3p per kilowatt hour of energy generated. Solar PV panels have the capacity to generate over 42 kilowatts per hour in perfect conditions. Quite correctly, installers of this renewable energy technology claim that the cost of installation and equipment is easily outweighed by the long-term financial benefits. In a typical case, the cost of installation is recouped within 10 years and the energy production / saving on bills actually puts the household into profit.
Although the current coalition government has ratified labour's pledge of maintaining the Feed-in Tariff scheme for 25 years, the current energy payment rates are only guaranteed until 2013. If this scheme continues to prove too successful, energy rates may be reduced after 2013 for households signing up to the scheme after that date. This must prove a good motivation for those considering installation to act fast.
Installers with the correct credentials and a quality reputation are already overwhelmed by the volume of enquiries, even during these dark dull opening days of 2011.
The process of installing solar PV panels is straight-forward and fairly speedy. A home is surveyed then the best positioning and quality of solar cells established. Thankfully most properties do not require planning permission for the installation of solar panels; households in conservation areas or occupying listed buildings will need to seek advice from the local authority. The Ofgen statistics revealed the Feed-in Tarriff scheme was most popular in the south east of England with the region recording 3,595 registrations, followed closely by the south west with 3,244 installations.
The East Midlands recorded 1,453, East of England 2,272, London 801, the North East 332, North West 884, West Midlands 1,121 and the Yorkshire and Humber area 2,297.
The Ofgem figures also showed 4.3 megawatts of hydro-power were registered to benefit from the tariffs from their introduction in April through December.