Archive for 'Blog'

Oct 04

Due to continued expansion, PV FIT have moved to new offices at Regus House on Chester Business Park, still only 2 miles from Chester City Centre.

Chester Business Park is a 175 acre landscaped business environment providing the location for businesses in 1,250,000 sq ft of prime offices employing 7,500 people. Our new neighbours include MBNA (Bank of America), Marks & Spencer Money, HBOS and Natwest.

All post sent to The Gatehouse, Union Street, Chester will be automatically redirected to Regus House so there should be no interruption in the quality of service you receive from us.

Our full address is:

PV FIT Ltd, Regus House, Herons Way, Chester Business Park, Chester  CH4 9QR

We look forward to seeing you here soon!

Sep 22

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has said he is determined to “get tough” with the six biggest energy companies, in his speech to the Lib Dem conference.

Mr Huhne also said he wants to help smaller companies get a share of the market.

He wants to do this by ending the practice by the biggest firms of luring new customers with cheap deals paid for by charging millions of their consumers high bills.

Mr Huhne said: “It is not fair that big energy companies can push their prices up for the vast majority of their consumers – who do not switch – while introducing cut-throat offers for new customers that stop small firms entering the market.

“That looks to me like predatory pricing. It must and will stop.”

What Mr Huhne has not talked about in his speech, however, is the scandal of energy companies imposing massive increases on consumers and blaming the wholesalers – when in some cases the wholesalers are those same energy companies.

Making the case for a low-carbon economy, which Mr Huhne claimed will eventually lead to far cheaper energy for everyone in the country, he said Britain is in danger of falling behind the emerging industrial nations.

Aug 15

All PV FIT solar energy systems now come with greater peace of mind due to a 5 year independent insurance backed guarantee covering your whole solar PV installation.

With the launch of the governments solar feed in tariff (FIT) scheme in April 2010 solar photovoltaic systems offer very attractive investment propositions in today’s financial markets.

FITs pay an above market rate for every kWh (unit) of renewable electricity you generate at home, or work, which is index linked to Retail Price Index (RPI) and government guaranteed for 25 years. Solar energy systems installed by homeowners also benefit on no tax being chargeable on any earnings from the scheme. Coupled with ever rising fuel prices no wonder solar power is the fastest growing renewable source of energy in the UK today!

Despite the high uptake and reducing cost of equipment, a typical solar photovoltaic system (10-16 panels) will still set you back between £9-13,000 including 5% VAT. This means installing PV is the next most expensive purchase to a house, or car. PV FIT recognise this and are pleased to confirm that all new installations now come with an independent insurance backed guarantee covering deposits and workmanship as standard, without any additional cost to you.

Independent Warranty Association (IWA), whom are Financial Services Authority approved providers of insurance, offer a comprehensive service whereby they assess prospective member companies against a strict set of financial, service, quality and customer satisfaction. Only on passing IWA’s audit can solar installation companies become members and offer their “Deposit and Guarantee Insurance” product.

The IWA insurance has many benefits over other policies on the market as:

  • It covers contracts up to the value of £50,000
  • There is nothing for you to pay – not even an excess in the unlikely event you had to claim
  • The policy is fully transferable should you come to sell your home
  • IWA have been selling insurance backed guarantees on home improvement services for over 25 years

We will be shortly posting a specimen policy which outlines full T&C’s onto our Solar Warranty page.

In addition to the workmanship guarantees all the products we offer also come with manufacturers warranties. We ensure that all equipment is manufactured, or if not the company have a significant presence, within the EU by suppliers whom offer the best quality product and service.

As our 5 year insurance backed guarantee is workmanship based we do recommend that you contact your building and contents insurer to get cover the your PV FIT installation against fire, theft, etc.

To get a free solar survey and for more information on costs, equipment and the installation process visit www.pvfit.co.uk or call us on *0344 567 9032.

*no more than 4.6p/min peak rate from landlines, or free from many contract mobile phone providers

Jul 28

British Gas owner Centrica has reported operating profits of £1.3bn in the six months to 30 June

The results include a 54% fall in operating profits at its residential energy division, British Gas, to £270m. British Gas says higher wholesale gas prices are responsible for the fall in profits.

The news comes as the firm prepares to raise gas prices by 18% and electricity prices by 16% in August.

The increase will push up the average bill for around nine million customers by £190 a year.

The BBC Business Editor Robert Peston said…

“Pain for customers is a reward for shareholders. Now these are not two distinct groups: millions of people hold British Gas shares indirectly through their pension schemes. But, if asked, many of those saving for a pension would probably sacrifice the dividend for lower energy prices.”

Dave Houston, of nationwide solar panel installers PV FIT, said “this problem is not going to go away. As commercial entities energy suppliers must make profits, and unfortunately it is the wider public that have to pay for this. Fuel costs will continue rising over the next 10 years, as they have done for the past 10 years”.

Energy Efficiency

Consumers are likely to be stuck with fuel price hikes unless they take steps to mitigate the cost increases.

The primary steps should be energy efficiency, upgrading your property with measures such as low energy light bulbs, loft/cavity insulation and double glazing. These measures will help reduce the amount of fuel your property consumes but will not eradicate the need to buy in energy.

Following energy efficiency the next step could be to generate your own energy through use of renewable technologies, with very attractive incentives such as the Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme which pays an above market rate for the energy you produce on site from renewable energy sources.

Houston goes on to say, “Since introduction of the solar PV feed in tariffs the costs for solar energy have come down dramatically. Consumers were once put off by making a hefty investment in the region of £11,000-16,000 for a domestic scale solar energy system. However, you could now expect to pay £8,000-£13,000 for an equivalent sized photovoltaic system today”.

Bright future for solar power

The PV feed in tariff scheme offers an above market rate, to residential and commercial users, for all the renewable electricity generated on site, which is index linked (to Retail Price Index) and government guaranteed for 25 years.

FIT income is tax free for homeowners, plus you benefit form additional savings on electricity bills & get paid by your chosen energy supplier for any electricity which you do not consume.

With typical annul returns in excess of 12% pa solar panels offer a very strong case to combat the ever growing costs of energy.

To get a free no obligation quotation and see how much you could generate call PV FIT’s expert team on 0344 567 9032, or visit www.pvfit.co.uk

Read the full BBC article

Jul 25

An article in The Guardian over the weekend suggests that falling costs plus generous feed-in tariffs mean return is higher than ever – but payback will fall in April 2012

Are you a homeowner with some spare cash? A 20%-25% collapse in the price of rooftop solar power units in recent months has turned the government’s feed-in tariff scheme into one of the most lucrative financial propositions for households with the right sort of property.

The scheme was introduced in April 2010, when the Labour government introduced generous feed-in tariffs to encourage households to install solar photovoltaic systems. Back then, anyone spending, say, £13,000 up front to fit a 2.5kWp system to their home was paid 41.3p per kilowatt hour (kWh) generated – enough to earn them a typical annual income of £900 a year in payments, on top of a £140-a-year saving in reduced electricity bills.

t was described as a good investment because payments for each unit of electricity generated were guaranteed for 25 years, paid tax-free, and set to rise each year in line with inflation.

If you were planning to stay in your home and had a suitable roof (unshaded, at a pitch of about 40 degrees, and facing between south-east and south-west), the main question was how big a system to install – assuming you could raise the installation costs. The bigger the system, the greater the financial return.

However, you shouldn’t worry if you put off doing anything because it has emerged this week that waiting has worked in your favour.

Solar experts say that as a result of the installation costs coming down, the investment value of the scheme has become even better. These lower installation costs, an inflation-linked increase to the feed-in tariff payments and the prospect of rising electricity prices all mean the guaranteed returns are now above 10% a year, depending on how you calculate it. And if you install before next April – when new payment tariffs look set to come into force – you are guaranteed the tariffs for the next 25 years at the old rate.

David Houston, Managing Director of Chester based PV FIT, says that “costs of solar panels have dropped dramatically since April 2010 when the feed in tariffs were launched. A year ago we were installing a 4kWp system for £15-16,000 however now we are less than £13,000 including VAT. This means a potential return on investment of 13% per year!”.

The fall in costs can be attributed to higher volumes of solar panels being installed in the UK, as well as falling tariff levels in Germany. One solar expert suggests that PV manufacturers set their prices according to the level of subsidy available.

Feed in tariff levels are not likely to remain as generous, with tariffs due to drop by 9% or more as of April 2012 to counteract the dramatic cost reductions seen to date.

Houston goes on to say “having been involved in the solar energy industry since 2003 I am used to seeing government tampering with incentives if they are seen to be too popular, or generous. We have recently seen the coalition implement a ‘fast-track review of feed in tariffs for larger scale installations’ (above 50kW), so there is no guarantee that smaller scale systems will not be put under the microscope before the end of 2011″.

The one guarantee is that existing solar installations will not be affected, with any changes only affecting new adopters. This will mean there will likely be a ‘solar gold rush’ with prospective solar generators rushing to install a photovoltaic system before any FIT reduction comes into effect.

“The current number of solar installations in the UK to date is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a vast number of residential and commercial roofs that are suitable for solar energy systems up to 50kW. The potential for growth in employment and manufacture are astronomical due to solar being one of the easiest renewable retrofits available as it inhabits your roof rather than your rooms. In addition, fuel prices are only going to continue rising based on 2 of the ‘bog six’ raising their prices for electricity by as much as 16% recently” says Houston.

PV FIT offer a free no-obligation solar survey over the phone after which you will receive a formal fixed price quotation via email. Just call 0344 567 9032 or request a solar survey to find out how much you can earn from feed in tariffs.

Jul 12

British Gas became the first of the 5 remaining “big-six” energy suppliers to follow Scottish powers announcement to increase it’s gas and electricity prices, putting further pressure on household purses.

Gas bills will rise by an average 18% and electricity bills by an average of 16%. The change will affect nine million households with the average dual fuel customer paying an extra £190 a year.

British Gas managing director Phil Bentley said its bills were being driven higher by the fact that the company buys 50% of its gas on the international wholesale market, which has seen the wholesale cost of gas go up by 30% since last winter.

The company said it had been selling energy at a loss for the past three or four months.

Spending squeeze

In June, Scottish Power became the first of the big-six energy suppliers to announce another set of price increases. It said it would raise the cost of gas by 19% and the cost of electricity by 10% at the start of August.

“Average household bill for a dual fuel British Gas customer will now go up from £1,096 to £1,288,” said the price comparison service Uswitch.

“In total, British Gas customers will have seen their bills shoot up by £258 or 25% within a year, taking them from £1,030 a year to £1,288,” Uswitch added.

Oliver Yeates, Director at renewable energy installers PV FIT, said “the scary thing about the latest price increases is that they are caused by a large percentage of energy being bought on the world markets. This problem just isn’t going to go away if the Government maintain the status quo and do not increase investment in renewable sources of energy”.

“The PV Feed-In Tariff (PV FIT) is proving to be a very popular scheme that is boosting uptake of renewables across the UK. In the short time the scheme has been operating we’ve seen a dramatic increase in uptake and also seen costs come down. Despite this the Governments recent decision to reduce FIT’s for larger scale projects above 50kW saw investor confidence drop, which is only now starting to recover but not to the level we experienced prior to the cuts”.

“We need a commitment from government that they will step up support for the renewables sector in particular, as we have seen in Germany for nearly a decade, as this is the only way the industry can help fill the void left by our depleted natural resources, and our reduce our reliance on imported energy which is susceptible to ‘world issues’ as we’ve seen in Libya and the Middle-East”.

According to the Energy Saving Trust average household consumes 3300kWh (units) of electricity per year. A 16 panel (3.92kW) solar pv installation, which typically takes 1 day to complete, on a South facing roof can generate 3365kWh, offering income and savings of £1744 per year. These savings can be increased by changes in usage habits, such as using washing machine or dishwasher during the day instead of at night, plus they are index linked to RPI and tax free for 25 years.

PV FIT offer a free solar survey service over the phone using aerial and streetview imagery to establish the location and number of solar panels you can fit on your roof, and quickly establish a fixed price and anticipated return on investment.

“Our customers like our telephone surveys they are unobtrusive and only take up 20 minutes of their time, compared to 2 hours for a home visit. We are often in the position to email a fixed price quotation within 24 hours of their call, with the ability to start work on site within 2-3 weeks from date of their order” said Dave Houston of PV FIT.

“We have a large number of happy customers across the UK whom have gone through this process and are more than happy to speak to anyone looking to invest in a solar pv from PV FIT”.

Getting a PV FIT quotation is simple, call 0344 567 9032 (4.6p/min peak or free from most contract mobile providers) or fill in our web form and we will call you.

For more information see PV FIT

Jul 07

Fronius is running a one-off special offer between July 1st and October 31st 2011: if you extend your standard manufacturer’s warranty from 5 to 10 years during this promotional period, Fronius* will extend the warranty to twenty years absolutely free of charge!

PV FIT are pleased to pass on the Fronius’ special offer but would like to go one step further, and pay for the initial upgrade from 5 to 10 years. All new installations, whether domestic or commercial, completed between 1st July and 31st October 2011 are eligible.

If you already have a quotation where we have not specified a Fronius inverter don’t worry as we will change it to Fronius at no extra charge. We do need to point out that web monitoring is not included for Fronius inverters, but please do contact us if you would like to explore this as an upgrade.

Call PV FIT today on 0344 567 9032 – calls cost 4.16p/min peak rate from landlines and are free from most contract mobile phones.

* The promotion does not cover inverters intended for the American markets, inverters that meet UL 1741 requirements or carry a CSA mark.

Jun 27

Some solar panel companies are using dodgy sales tactics and giving poor advice to people looking to buy solar PV (photovoltaic) panels, shows a Which? undercover investigation.

Three quarters of companies investigated overestimated how much energy the solar PV panels would produce and most of them underestimated how long it would take for the system to pay for itself.

The government’s Clean Energy Cashback scheme, also known as the feed-in tariff (FIT) pays homeowners for generating electricity from solar PV panels a tax-free guaranteed and index-linked tariff for 25 years. With a 4kWp system, you could make up to £28,000 profits over 25 years.

So, not surprisingly, solar PV has attracted a lot of interest from homeowners and to protect consumers, to qualify for the FIT you must use products and installers registered under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). There are now over 3,000 solar PV installers on the MCS register.

But despite MCS, our investigation found that out of the 12 companies, two were clearly in breach of the industry consumer code they signed up to. One firm, Skyline, offered a ‘first come, first served’ discount if the customer was prepared to give it regular meter readings and another, Green Sun, gave 24 hours to make a decision.

Other findings in the Which? report highlighted that out of the 12 solar PV companies whom were assessed:

  • seven companies did not take into account the fact that part of the roof was in the shade, so putting solar panels there was questionable
  • only two companies mentioned that the inverter, which transforms the current produced by the solar panels into usable electricity, almost always needs to be replaced within 25 years at a cost of at least £1,000
  • using the government methodology, we calculated that eight companies underestimated the time it would take for the system to pay for itself.

Oliver Yeates, Director at Chester based national solar pv installers PV FIT Ltd, welcomed the Which? reports findings. He said “There are now over 3000 MCS approved solar PV installers which has made the market extremely competitive. This is good on one hand as consumers quite often get a better price of installation. However, with more installers fighting for the same work some companies seem to forget ethics and revert to high pressure sales tactics”.

“The Which? report vindicates our (PV FIT) ethical sales approach where we survey by phone, utilising aerial and streetview imagery that is available extensively on the web. Not only are we able to identify our customers roofs suitability for solar PV installation, we can also identify any shading issues that may impact on performance and issue our customers a fixed price quotation all without an invasive salesman visit. Another plus is our carbon footprint is low as we avoid surveyors driving around the country polluting”.

Given that the average value of a solar PV installation being £10-12,00, PV FIT acknowledge that a phone survey is not to everyone’s taste.  However they go on to say that “the consumers interests are at the heart of what we do. Our customers will pay no more than the price we quoted during the telephone survey. We will also agree to visit any property where we feel the installation is likely to be tricky and offer a full refund of any deposit, even if outside the 7 working day ‘cooling-off’ period, should we establish the installation can not proceed due to a technicality. We have lot’s of customers that have been through the PV FIT survey and installation process, all of whom are happy and willing to tell others about their experience”.

Read the full Which? Solar report

Jun 21

Energy and climate change minister garnering support for 30 per cent reductions by 2020 ahead of EU Environment Council meeting today.

Chris Huhne will look to convince European environment ministers to support deeper emissions cuts by building a “low carbon coalition” with other supportive nations, including Denmark and Germany.

Huhne has stated in the past that the means to reduce emissions up to 30 per cent are already in place, and has the support of counterparts from Germany, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal and Greece as well as 70 major European companies.

The government believes the 20 per cent target is too low to achieve the target set out in the EU’s 2050 low carbon roadmap, which identified that lowering emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050 would require a 25 per cent cut by 2020, followed by a 40 per cent reduction by 2030 and 60 per cent by 2040.

Publishing the document in March, climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said that an additional €270bn, or 1.5 per cent of EU GDP, would have to be invested in low-carbon projects each year – on top of current overall investment of around 19 per cent of GDP.

“The Commission’s paper on tackling carbon emissions shows that going further, sooner is cheaper in the long run,” Huhne said in a statement on the eve of the conference. “I’m working to convince other EU ministers to give their full backing to the paper, and show that they’re serious about getting Europe to the front of this low carbon race, rather than falling behind.”

Read the full article at BusinessGreen

Jun 09

The Government has today announced its decisions on the fast-track consultation for the Feed in Tariffs.

There is no change to the rates proposed in the consultation, meaning Solar PV systems with Total Installed Capacity (TIC) of 50kW and above installed and commissioned after the 1st of August 2011 will now receive:

As we reported in our FIT review article on the 31st May these changes do not affect PV systems below 50kW where tariff levels remain at the higher rates – see: Feed In Tariffs (FIT).

Many in the industry geared up to specialise in large schemes will now be left out in the dark. Although rates of return of 5-8% will still be achievable, many investors have had their fingers burnt, which has also resulted in banks confidence in lending to such schemes being damaged.

If you have a Solar PV scheme below 50kW please contact our team for a free consultation.