Should I buy a solar PV system now?
Posted by Gabby Mallett on 20 November 2015 at 2:30 pm
The answer is yes, absolutely, but you had better get moving. With tariffs set to reduce or disappear altogether in the new year, you probably have until 31st December 2015 to get your system in and your application for Feed-in Tariff (FiTs) payments to your supplier.
Your FiTs application will be accepted on the current rates as long as your FiTs supplier receives your application before the cut off date (expected to be 31st December). This date is clearly after the install and commissioning date it may also be impacted by Christmas post. So, to be sure of getting the current rate, you need to get your installation complete as soon as possible and get your application in. Make sure that your installer knows that you want the current rate of FiTs and discuss what will happen if there is bad weather at the time of install. Ask them how they may cope with any sickness of key staff, especially the commissioning electrician. If your installer will agree, then ask them for a contract which states that your agreement is conditional on them installing, commissioning and issuing the relevant certificates within a specified time.
The other thing which is worth remembering is that the Government is suggesting that extensions to existing PV systems will no longer be eligible for FiTs. This means that you should go for as large a system as you can (up to 10kWp) right from the outset. Previously you could install a small system and add to it later. The first install would get the FiTs at the prevailing rate. Any time later you could add panels (assuming your inverter was sufficient in size) and get the new FiTs rate for those panels.
However, take note, the consultation is now suggesting a new banding, that FiTs will be payable at the highest rate for systems up to 10kWp rather than the current 4kWp. Assuming there is still a FiTs payment after 1st January, this should help remove the incentive for the inefficient practise of installing at 4kWp to get the highest tariff and then adding to the system later to receive payment, albeit at a lower rate, for further panels. This meant that some people could ensure that they were paid more for their systems than others.
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