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Solar PV: where we stand as consumers in all the chaos (updated)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 January 2012 at 4:49 pm

Much of the uncertainty around the feed-in tariff rates for solar PV has lessened thanks to today's written ministerial statement from DECC.

The government has laid a licence before Parliament to modify the Energy Act, with the result that any solar PV installations with an eligibility date on or after 3 March 2012 will have the rates laid out in the consultation (21p for installations up to and including 4kW). In addition it confirmed that if it loses its Appeal it will stand by its consultation proposals.

So what does that mean for someone who wants to buy solar panels?

If you are interested in installing a solar PV system of up to (and including) 4kW this is where you stand:

If you install between now and 31 March you will get at least 21p per kWh you generate from the feed-in tariff.

Depending on the outcome of the government's appeal, you may find yourself in the bonus situation of getting 43p per kWh. However, it would be unwise to bank on it.

In addition to the generation tariff mentioned above, you will also benefit from:

  • 3.1p per kWh exported. In this size installation, the amount exported will be estimated to be half of the electricity you generate.
  • reduced electricity bills, because you will use your own generated power first. How much this is will depend on the proportion of electricity you use during the day, and whether you time your use of energy hungry appliances to when the panels are generating most.

The situation for larger installations is the same, but the rates are different. Click here for rates:

What rate the feed-in tariff rates will be for people with an eligibility date after 31 March 2012 is still unknown, but it's certainly not likely to be more than 21p, and may well be less. A consultation document is expected at the end of January, which may shed some light on the matter.

So if you are happy with the rate of return that 21p per kWh gives then now is a good time to install. It's unlikely to get better, and it's quite likely to go down again after 3 March 2012. You never know, you might win the 43p jackpot, but don't rely on it when making your decision.

Photo: Chelmsford Public Library

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Comments

4 comments - read them below or add one

Fred1

Fred1Comment left on: 21 January 2012 at 9:52 pm

Post April 1st it seems to me probable that the FIT rates will have to come down , perhaps even for long installed PV Systems  let alone new installations.

I believe the Ofgem figures for Oct-Jan show no reduction in the rate of installations, indeed an increase in installation rate, so money will be draining out of the budget faster than expected.

I believe 1/10/2011 to 1/11/2011showed 14,216 domestic installations and 32 community projects

January 2012, for the first 21 days only  shows 26,561 installations and 62 community projects. So if anything a reduction in rate to 21 pence has increased the installation rate ...?

 

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 20 January 2012 at 10:56 am

We don't know what's going to happen after 1 April, as that wasn't covered by the consultation on the fast track review on solar PV. A new consultation on the future of the feed-in tariff for all microgeneration technologies is expected at the end of this month. The budget for the feed-in tariff is seriously over spent, and ministers have been talking about radical cuts. So, it may not go down, but everything I've read points to it being a strong possibility.

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pigasus

pigasusComment left on: 20 January 2012 at 10:16 am

The statement from DECC says: "This decision confirms the new tariff rates for solar PV installations with an eligibility date on or after 3 March 2012."  Doesn't this mean that the 21p rate is going to definitely apply from that date at the latest?  Why do you think that the rate is "quite likely to go down again after 3 March 2012"?

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Linn Rafferty

Linn Rafferty from JTec Energy PerformanceComment left on: 19 January 2012 at 5:40 pm

thanks Cathy, and well done for getting this update out on the same day as the statement from DECC

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