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Buyer beware as rogue solar installers claim 43.3p feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 February 2012 at 10:20 am

A disreputable minority of solar panel installers are exploiting the confusion over the feed-in tariff caused by recent legal action, and promising returns that they may not be able to guarantee.

These installers are promising that the rate of government subsidy on solar PV panels will be 43.3p per kWh generated. In fact, due to an ongoing legal battle, this cannot be guaranteed. Consumers may only get a feed-in tariff rate of 21p per kWh.

A search for solar installers on Google brings up three companies on the first page claiming to offer the 43.3p tariff rate. There are also many misleading ads in local and national papers and landing on people’s door mats.

If you install a 4kW system based on an expectation of 43.3p, and the government wins its appeal to the Supreme Court, you will receive £20,000* less than you had calculated over the 25 year term of the feed-in tariff.

My advice to people interested in solar panels is to go ahead only if you are happy with the returns given by a 21p feed-in tariff rate. Then if the government loses its appeal, and the rate does go back to 43.3p for installations with an eligibility date before 3 March 2012, you will have a very nice bonus.

If a company says that they can guarantee the higher rate, show them the door, or put down the phone.

There are many honest and reputable solar installers who will do a good job. If people want to protect themselves from solar cowboys, they should:

  • check that the company is MCS accredited, and members of the REAL Assurance Scheme
  • Get three quotes
  • Ask for references from previous customers, or check consumer feedback in the YouGen directory.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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5 comments - read them below or add one

PV Solar Solutions

PV Solar Solutions Comment left on: 7 March 2012 at 11:47 am

There is definately no gaurantee that any customer who installed solar panels between December 12th and March 3rd will receive the higher rate of 43.3p. 

It is a shame that some solar companies are making this claim and painting the solar industry in a bad light. 

We as a company have been explaining to the customer the return on investment they can receive with the new 21p rate while highlighting the possibility of a higher rate of 43.3p. However, the rate of 21p is still a very attractive investment opportunity for anyone considering installing pv solar.

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Fred1Comment left on: 5 February 2012 at 10:23 am

Cathy, The current advertising must be working.

Despite the issue of 21p tariff, there appear to have been 37,881 domestic installations in Jan tatalling 121Mw. Compared to

28,471 domestic installations in December. The Industry must be


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Pure Solar Ltd T/A Pure Renewables

Pure Solar Ltd T/A Pure RenewablesComment left on: 3 February 2012 at 12:38 pm

I agree that this is unfair on the customer and should be highlighted.  We only use the 21p rate in our calcs to the customer and are very clear with them that's the view they should be taking.  Even at that the ROI is still attractive and customers are canny enough to work it out.

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Dulas Ltd

Dulas LtdComment left on: 3 February 2012 at 12:37 pm

These operators could seriously damage the reputation of solar PV as a valuable source of renewable energy; a technology we have spent 30 years developing and promoting. This highlights the importance of selecting a reputable established installer using reliable, quality components that will give the best energy returns for the whole FiT period and beyond. 

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David Hunt

David Hunt from Comment left on: 3 February 2012 at 12:21 pm

They should be named and shamed Cathy. People need protecting from these cowboys.

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