Archive for 'Quality and service'

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.

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

May 13

We hope you have enjoyed the recent spell of great weather across the UK. Our customers certainly have, and we have been inundated with positive feedback regarding the performance of their PV systems. To celebrate we are pleased to offer £200 discount for any new orders received by the end of May.

Mrs Tuckers energy generated (17th - 20th April 2011)

Our May offer is available to all existing and new enquirers…

  • If you already have a quotation and it has expired please contact us to confirm pricing before sending your order.
  • If you haven’t yet had a quotation all you need to do is complete a telephone survey – only taking 20 minutes – and we then email your quotation.

We only offer top brand equipment and high quality solar inverters with built in web monitoring as standard, giving you peace of mind that your PV system is working as it should be.

Here’s how Mrs Tucker’s 3.675 kW, 15 x Sharp 245Wp panels, has performed since her system was installed and commissioned on the 17th April:

Mrs Tuckers FIT earnings (17th - 20th April 2011)

Mrs Tucker says:
“I would like to thank you (PV FIT Ltd) for all the help and support you have given me over the past couple of months while I contemplated the roof panels. Not many firms would have replied so quickly to my emails and explained everything as clearly as you did.
At the moment the Nedap programme tells me that I have made £6.65 since it started operating so that is a good beginning!”
May 06

UN-commissioned report predicts 77 per cent of energy could come from renewable sources, but only if the right policies are adopted.

The full scale of the growth potential enjoyed by the global renewable energy industry has been underlined today with the release of a major new UN-commissioned report, which predicts that renewable sources could provide up to 77 per cent of the world’s energy by 2050.

The final version of the long-awaited Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (PDF) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released earlier today at an event in Abu Dhabi.

“With consistent climate and energy policy support, renewable energy sources can contribute substantially to human well-being by sustainably supplying energy and stabilising the climate,” said professor Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chairman of Working Group III, at the report launch. “However, the substantial increase of renewables is technically and politically very challenging.”

Shares of energy sources in total global primary energy supply in 2008

The report concludes that concerted policy efforts could result in the rapid rollout of renewable energy technologies, although the proportion of renewable energy will increase even without enabling policies.

It also predicts that the emergence of renewables as the dominant energy source could lead to cumulative greenhouse gas savings equivalent to 220 to 560 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide between 2010 and 2050.

The cuts delivered through this could play a major role in ensuring that concentrations of greenhouse gases remain below 450 parts per million, and that this could be sufficient to limit average global temperature rises to below two degrees centigrade.

Read the full Business Green article

Apr 08

PV FIT are pleased to offer the excellent Siliken pv modules were recognised as the best in Photon  2010 Laboratory test.

On average the Siliken modules were shown to generate 5.9% more power than the average value of all the modules studied, and 12.4% more than the minimum value recorded. This is impressive as the list of participants includes manufacturers such as Sharp, BP Solar, Kyocera and Schott.

Siliken modules are manufactured in Spain, and are members of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), and PV Cycle, an association whose goal is to implement the photovoltaic industry’s commitment to set up a voluntary take back and recycling programme for end-of-life-modules and to take responsibility for PV modules throughout their entire value chain.

Other key features of  Silken branded modules are a 10 year manufacturing defects warranty, plus performance guarantees of 90% for 10 years and 80% for 25 years.

Contact us today for your free solar survey.