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Share issue for UK's first community-owned power station launches

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 April 2011 at 9:06 am

Share issue for UK's first community-owned power station launches

Lewes-based energy company Ovesco is racing to get the country's first community-owned solar power station up and running before the feed-in tariff rates are slashed on 1 August. The not-for-profit industrial and provident society has teamed up with East Sussex brewery, Harveys, to install 544 so…

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Windmills everywhere, but Mallorcan renewable energy potential seems untapped

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 April 2011 at 9:03 am

Windmills everywhere, but Mallorcan renewable energy potential seems untapped

One of the first things that struck me as we arrived in Mallorca was the number of windmills everywhere. Sadly they are mostly derelict, with a few tarted up to promote restaurants or other tourist attractions. Modern wind turbines, generating electricity, are surprisingly few and far between - w…

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6 tips for finding the best log supplier

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 April 2011 at 10:10 am

6 tips for finding the best log supplier

There are a number of things to think about when buying logs. While price is always going to be important, it's not always easy to compare - as you may not be comparing like with like. Here are five great questions that the Biomass Energy Centre suggests you ask suppliers before you buy: 1. Ar…

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Buildings don't use energy: people do

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 April 2011 at 10:46 am

Buildings don't use energy: people do

Smart buildings aren't the solution to reducing energy use, smart people are, according to research by Kathryn Janda of the UK Energy Research Centre.  Architects can specify "zero-energy" homes, which are designed to be energy efficient and produce their own energy through solar power, but …

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Interest in renewable heat is high - but price expectations are not realistic

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 April 2011 at 11:25 am

Interest in renewable heat is high - but price expectations are not realistic

If their boiler broke down tomorrow, 85 per cent of people would consider a renewable alternative, according to our new survey by YouGen. However, the amount they are prepared to pay falls short of what most renewable heat systems actually cost. We ran the survey following the recent announcement…

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Servicing your solar water heating panels

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 5 April 2011 at 10:56 am

With summer coming, solar thermal panels will be working harder, so if you haven't had yours serviced recently, now's the time to think about getting it done. This video talks through what a  service involves for solar thermal panels: both evacuated tubes and flat plate. …

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How to choose logs for a wood burning stove

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 March 2011 at 10:12 am

How to choose logs for a wood burning stove

Moisture content and the density of the wood are the two main things to bear in mind when choosing logs for a wood burning stove. Not only will they affect the amount of heat you get per kilo of fuel, but they will also make a difference to how well the wood burns - whether you get nice flames or ta…

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Import and export meters and the feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 March 2011 at 9:59 am

Import and export meters and the feed-in tariff

I've been a bit confused about export meters for the feed-in tariff. When my solar PV panels were installed my installer put in two meters. One measures the total amount of electricity generated. The other measures the amount I export. The meters are identical. So identical that they even…

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Comparing air source heat pumps part 2

Posted by John Lightfoot on 25 March 2011 at 9:45 am

Comparing air source heat pumps part 2

In case you haven't had time to read the first half of this two part blog, I will repeat the caveat I started with in Part 1. Before you start selecting the particular air source heat pump you want, make sure that you have taken all practical insulation measures possible to reduce the heat loss from…

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Has the purpose of the feed-in tariff changed?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 March 2011 at 12:07 pm

Has the purpose of the feed-in tariff changed?

Do you know what the purpose of the feed-in tariff is? I thought that I did. I thought that it was about lowering the country's carbon emissions, to help us meet our EU carbon emission reduction targets. But, apparently not.  According to Alasdair Grainger, the DECC official speaking at yes…

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Win a copy of Earth from the Air (worth £25)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 March 2011 at 10:38 am

Win a copy of Earth from the Air (worth £25)

With the renewable heat incentive domestic installations still shrouded in mystery, we're keen to know how much ordinary householders know about renewable heat. So please do our short survey - it's just nine questions and will only take a minute or two (honestly) - and we'll enter you in a draw to w…

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Fast track review of feed-in tariff rates for solar PV is a blow for community solar schemes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 March 2011 at 10:03 am

Fast track review of feed-in tariff rates for solar PV is a blow for community solar schemes

Households are the only winners in the Government's fast-track review of feed-in tariffs for solar PV (for generating electricity). Rates for installations of 50kWp or less will not change (and on 1 April they will rise by 4.8% in line with the Retail Price Index). In stark contrast, the rates f…

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6 things to consider before buying a wood burning stove

Posted by Laurence Jones on 17 March 2011 at 9:06 am

6 things to consider before buying a wood burning stove

More and more people are turning to stoves to heat their homes. Biomass fuels such as firewood have been growing in popularity as a carbon-lean heating solutions as consumers aim for a more ecocentric outlook for their homes. However, the importance of buying a suitable appliance for th…

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Interest-free loans available for renewable energy in Scotland

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 March 2011 at 8:33 am

Interest-free loans available for renewable energy in Scotland

Scotland is leading the game when it comes to UK investment in renewable energy, and last Friday it demonstrated that again. Energy minister Jim Mather announced that people living north of the border can apply for interest-free loans of up to £2,000 each, to help install a range of renewable energ…

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New feed-in tariff rates from April 2011

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 March 2011 at 9:12 am

New feed-in tariff rates from April 2011

The feed-in tariff is linked to the retail price index, so rates will increase (or decrease) each year in line with inflation. The rates for the year commencing 1 April 2011 will be as follows: Combined heat and power (CHP) CHP with electrical capacity of 2kW or less: up 0.5p, to 10.5p per kW…

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Grants will be available for renewable heat as interim measure

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 March 2011 at 10:57 am

Grants will be available for renewable heat as interim measure

Domestic installations of renewable heat will be eligible for a grant, while we wait for the full renewable heat incentive scheme to be introduced in October 2012.  From July 2011 RHI Premium Payments will be available. These will be a one-off payment to help with installation costs - essent…

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A quarter of first year renewable heat incentive budget will be spent on homes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2011 at 11:57 am

A quarter of first year renewable heat incentive budget will be spent on homes

Up to 25,000 domestic renewable heat installations will be supported by an RHI Premium Payment from July this year, according to today's announcement by DECC (the department for energy and climate change). This is an interim measure until the RHI proper is introduced for homes in October 2012. To…

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World's first Renewable Heat Incentive launched to reduce emissions - 10 March 2011

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2011 at 10:20 am

World's first Renewable Heat Incentive launched to reduce emissions - 10 March 2011

The detail of the much anticipated renewable heat incentive has just been announced by Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary. This is the summary from the DECC website. Full detail and analysis will follow later. £860m government scheme expected to increase green capital inv…

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Renewable heat incentive - thoughts on deeming, SAP, equity and accuracy

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 9 March 2011 at 3:59 pm

Renewable heat incentive - thoughts on deeming, SAP, equity and accuracy

According to the briefing prepared by the REA (the Renewable Energy Association), the long awaited proposals for the Renewable Heat Incentive are expected this week. Following slowly on from the FIT (feed-in tariff), the renewable heat incentive is expected to apply the long-term tariff approach of…

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Shading has more impact on solar PV than orientation or pitch

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 9 March 2011 at 9:15 am

Shading has more impact on solar PV than orientation or pitch

Many of our clients ask about the orientation and pitch of solar panels - it appears that this has been well publicised. However, the effects of orientation and pitch are less than most people think. Moving the orientation from south to south-west, for example, reduces efficiency by less than 5% as …

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How to choose your feed-in tariff supplier

Posted by Kate Turner on 7 March 2011 at 9:11 am

How to choose your feed-in tariff supplier

You may not know this, but you do not have to get your feed-in tariff paid by the energy company that you buy your electricity from. You can shop around to find the one that offers you the best deal. At the moment they all pay out exactly the same rate, so you'll probably want to choose t…

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Would you consider renewable heat for your home?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 March 2011 at 3:59 pm

Would you consider renewable heat for your home?

If your boiler broke down tomorrow, would you just get another one? Or might you consider one of the various types of renewable heat that are now available? I ask, because the final details of the renewable heat incentive are released this month. This is the government's scheme to encourage us to…

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The REAL consumer code - what it means for installers

Posted by John Martin on 2 March 2011 at 9:15 am

The REAL consumer code - what it means for installers

As an microgeneration certification scheme (MCS) approved business you must currently also be a member of the REAL Assurance scheme and work to their consumer code. The purpose of this code is primarily to protect the consumer from unscrupulous business/sales practices and ensure a consistent app…

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Comparing air source heat pumps part 1

Posted by John Lightfoot on 28 February 2011 at 11:31 am

Comparing air source heat pumps part 1

Before you start thinking about which particular air source heat pump you want, make sure that you have taken all the practical insulation measures to reduce the heat loss from your property. Let’s slim the choice down quickly! The first thing I would suggest you can do is eradicate any he…

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Buying a wind turbine? 10 must-ask questions

Posted by David Hunt on 25 February 2011 at 10:11 am

Buying a wind turbine? 10 must-ask questions

There is a huge amount of interest in wind turbines as a way of generating clean, green electricity and healthy financial returns, despite the wealth of myths, prejudice and misinformation. A well placed wind turbine pays for itself in three to six years, and provides an annual return on investment …

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Renewable heat incentive - consumers beware

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 February 2011 at 11:54 am

Renewable heat incentive - consumers beware

We're still waiting for the detail of the renewable heat incentive, and today the Renewable Energy Association has written to Chris Huhne (again), calling on him to publish the details without delay. But until he does, if you're considering installing solar hot water, a heat pump or a biomass boiler…

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New wind turbines at Delabole generate more than twice as much

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 February 2011 at 9:15 am

New wind turbines at Delabole generate more than twice as much

The new wind turbines at Good Energy's Delabole wind farm are very impressive. I visited on Tuesday for the celebration of its repowering and learnt a lot about how wind generation has improved. There are four new wind turbines, replacing the original 10. Delabole, in Cornwall, is the site of one…

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"Onshore wind is the future, and it works" - Chris Huhne

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 February 2011 at 11:32 am

"Onshore wind is the future, and it works" - Chris Huhne

Chris Huhne expressed his strong support for onshore wind at yesterday's launch for the repowering of Good Energy's Delabole wind farm: "I wish our fellow country people were more open-minded about onshore wind. It is the most competitive of renewable technologies, on a base with nuclear. And at …

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Feed-in tariff review: an update

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 February 2011 at 1:44 pm

Feed-in tariff review: an update

Concern that large-scale solar is set to take a significant quantity of the set amount of funding is the main driver of the feed-in tariff review, according to RegenSW chief executive Merlin Hyman, who recently met Greg Barker MP, the minister responsible for feed-in tariffs at DECC. Barker is de…

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How to install a heat pump into an existing property

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 21 February 2011 at 9:18 am

How to install a heat pump into an existing property

As the advantages of heat pumps become better known and with the expected Renewable Heat Incentive, more people are looking at whether the technology can be applied to their existing properties. The advantages of installing a heat pump in a new build property is well documented. It is als…

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Solar PVT: can solar PV and solar thermal panels be successfully combined?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 17 February 2011 at 10:01 am

Solar PVT: can solar PV and solar thermal panels be successfully combined?

Most of us are now aware of solar panels that heat water and those that produce electricity. But could we install a panel to do both? Solar PVT (PV and thermal) is a concept designed to create electricity and use the waste heat (solar PV panels are only about 15% efficient and the rest of the…

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Energy grant of £1,000 available for community buildings in the south west

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 February 2011 at 3:28 pm

Energy grant of £1,000 available for community buildings in the south west

Grants of £1,000 are still available for community groups across the South West of England and South and West Wales, who are looking to reduce their energy use. The Western Power Distribution Community Chest is open to all eligible groups (although applications from Cornwall and Wales are partic…

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How much are your solar panels generating?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 February 2011 at 9:39 am

How much are your solar panels generating?

Watching the kWhs clock up as the sun shines is one of the great pleasures of solar PV panels. But which meter do you watch? I watch the total generating meter, and am ashamed to say that I haven't yet worked out what all the different buttons on the inverter do. But that's all about to c…

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Could energy pricing structures drive energy efficiency?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 February 2011 at 9:15 am

Could energy pricing structures drive energy efficiency?

I've just listened to a discussion on Radio 4's Today programme about energy prices. At the moment they are structured so that the first X units are the most expensive, and after that, the price per kWh goes down. The argument was that this penalises people on low incomes. Obviously, being Radio …

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Community owned energy companies thrown into turmoil by feed-in tariff review

Posted by Chris Rowland on 10 February 2011 at 11:17 am

Community owned energy companies thrown into turmoil by feed-in tariff review

Community-owned energy companies across the UK are shocked and dismayed at yesterday's announcement of an early review of the feed-in tariff by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne. A growing number of community-owned companies have been set up to build renewable ene…

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First review of feed-in tariff announced

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 February 2011 at 8:08 am

First review of feed-in tariff announced

Energy secretary, Chris Huhne has announced a comprehensive review of the feed-in tariff to take place this year - a year earlier than scheduled. Rates are expected to stay the same until April 2012. Since the introduction of the feed-in tariff in 2010, more than 21,000 installations have been re…

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The best way to draught-proof an old window or door

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 February 2011 at 9:11 am

The best way to draught-proof an old window or door

However high you turn up the heating, a cold draught howling around your ankles is still uncomfortable, yet lots of the products on sale at the DIY shops don't manage to cut it off. Well, thanks to English Heritage, by way of Hook Norton Low Carbon, I've discovered the answer for casement windows…

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What to expect from your PV panels throughout the year

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 February 2011 at 9:20 am

What to expect from your PV panels throughout the year

We're often asked how much electricity you should expect to generate from a solar PV system, and how much it will vary through the year. I'm going to use my 2.1kWp system as an example to give you an idea of what you might expect. Our system is mounted on the garage roof. It's a steep (45 degree)…

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How grid-connected home-generated electricity works

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 February 2011 at 8:45 am

How grid-connected home-generated electricity works

Understanding how a home microgeneration system switches from solar PV (or wind) generated power to mains electricity and back again is much simpler than you might think. It's all completely automatic and requires no human intervention. The system comes with an inverter, which converts the home g…

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Wood pellet boiler or stove: which would suit you best?

Posted by Jon Edge on 31 January 2011 at 9:57 am

Wood pellet boiler or stove: which would suit you best?

Wood pellet is a low carbon and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels and works very well in urban properties. There are two types of pellet heating system: a boiler which replaces your existing central heating system for space heat and hot water; or a pellet stove which has a window to show …

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Early adopters continue to call for equal feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 January 2011 at 9:50 am

Early adopters continue to call for equal feed-in tariffs

While the feed-in tariff is being hailed as a great success, and solar PV installations are sky rocketing, the voice of early adopters has disappeared from the media. However, a group of microgeneration pioneers who are receiving just 9p per kWh generation tariff (compared to the 43.1p received by t…

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Do I need a new cylinder for solar hot water?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 27 January 2011 at 3:13 pm

This video blog explains how to size a cylinder for solar thermal, and whether you need to install a new one. …

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Can you use radiators with an air source heat pump?

Posted by John Lightfoot on 24 January 2011 at 9:47 am

Can you use radiators with an air source heat pump?

The simple answer to the question can you use radiators with an air source heat pump is yes! Radiators need to be sized for the flow temperatures your heat pump will be set to. The lower this set point, the more efficient your heat pump will be, and therefore the cheaper to run. The dis…

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Ways in which Green Deal could be more ambitious

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 January 2011 at 10:10 am

Ways in which Green Deal could be more ambitious

The plans for a Green Deal scheme to finance energy efficiency lack ambition and are in danger of only delivering the easy to install solutions such as loft and cavity wall insulation  according to a number of commentators. Speaking at this week's Low Carbon Community Conference in London, …

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Six small wind turbines gain MCS; micro-hydro still 'in transition'

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 January 2011 at 10:50 am

Six small wind turbines gain MCS; micro-hydro still 'in transition'

Small wind turbines and micro-hydro systems have been the anomaly in the MCS system since the feed-in tariff was introduced in April last year. For an installation to be eligible for the financial incentive both products and installers must be accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (…

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Access to finance is a major barrier to microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 January 2011 at 9:58 am

Access to finance is a major barrier to microgeneration

Access to finance for renewable energy installations is a critical barrier for consumers, especially those for whom renewable heat would have the most benefits in reducing fuel poverty, according to research published by Consumer Focus Scotland.  In its report Power at Home, published in Nov…

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RHI announcements delayed until February

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 January 2011 at 10:17 am

RHI announcements delayed until February

Those anxiously waiting for news of what's going to be included in the renewable heat incentive and what the tariff levels are will have to wait a bit long according to the following announcement that the Renewable Energy Association just circulated to members:   Renewable Heat Incentive …

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New widget aims to reduce gas bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 January 2011 at 10:47 am

New widget aims to reduce gas bills

I've just received my gas bill and I'm not surprised to find that December's freezing temperatures mean that I've used a lot more gas than usual (and quite a lot more than the supplier has estimated too). I've been recording weekly readings from my gas and electricity meters for the past 2 and a…

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Get the best out of your solar thermal system

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 11 January 2011 at 9:04 am

Installing the solar thermal panels on your roof is just the first step. It's very important to know and work with your system to get the best out of it. Key to maximising the amount of water heated by the sol…

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Why using a solar quote site may cost you more than going direct

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 January 2011 at 3:17 pm

Why using a solar quote site may cost you more than going direct

Put solar energy into a search engine and you can almost guarantee that some of the results you get will be solar quote sites. If they aren't in the top 10, they will be in the ads at the side and top of the page. But did you know that you will almost certainly end up paying more for your solar pane…

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YouGen wins EU funding to develop

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 January 2011 at 12:41 pm

We are delighted to announce that we have won EU funding from Making it Local small grants programme to develop and improve YouGen. With it we will develop new services for installers, and improve our marketing and communication.   The funding is from the local action part of the Rural Devel…

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Get the best out of your air source heat pump in sub-zero temperatures

Posted by John Lightfoot on 4 January 2011 at 9:46 am

Get the best out of your air source heat pump in sub-zero temperatures

With temperatures more associated with Scandinavia than the UK, 2010 tested heating systems of all sorts in the UK, gas boilers and air source heat pumps included! Here are some of the problems have people reported over the past year and how can we avoid them being repeated as we go into 2011…

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Solar industry starts and ends year with uncertainty

Posted by Howard Johns on 23 December 2010 at 8:39 am

Solar industry starts and ends year with uncertainty

It feels as if the solar industry has been on a real rollercoaster during 2010. This was the year where we were finally meant to have an end to the stop start funding of the various grant schemes that have supported the sector in the past and move into the 21st (solar) century with the launch of a f…

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Costs to consider when installing a wind turbine

Posted by David Hunt on 20 December 2010 at 9:57 am

Costs to consider when installing a wind turbine

No renewable energy technology seems to provoke as much controversy as wind turbines. People love them or hate them. As far as performance goes, a wind turbine can be the most efficient generator of green electricity, or the worst!   With wind turbines location is everything. Don't just take my …

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Finance for energy efficiency: how the green deal will work

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 December 2010 at 10:10 am

Finance for energy efficiency: how the green deal will work

More detail about the Green Deal - the government's plan to encourage us all to make our homes and offices energy efficient - were revealed in the Energy Bill earlier this month. In essence this is a mechanism to enable people to make improvements without having to bear the up-front cost. The 'go…

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Can I use solar thermal panels to heat my house?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 15 December 2010 at 9:06 am

Generally solar thermal panels are only used for space heating in new build properties in the UK, and not retrofitted into existing houses. This video tells why (with an abbreviated transcript if you prefer to read): On the continent almost 30% of systems a…

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New installer training centre planned for Devon

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 December 2010 at 10:24 am

New installer training centre planned for Devon

  Renewable energy installers of the future are going to have a great place to learn at a new development at Bicton College in East Devon. A couple of weeks ago, I had a tour of the site of Bicton EaRTH (Environmental and Renewable Technologies Hub) site and was impressed by the detail t…

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10 tips for avoiding the solar thermal cowboys

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 10 December 2010 at 1:04 pm

If you're thinking of some solar thermal panels for Christmas, here's our video of 10 top tips to help you find a good installer (with a transcript for those who prefer to read): 1. Make sure that the installer looks at the condition of your roof on the inside and outside. &n…

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When to consider using an air source heat pump

Posted by John Lightfoot on 8 December 2010 at 2:07 pm

When to consider using an air source heat pump

Air source heat pumps can be used in many applications for heating water, be it domestic (tap) water or the water used in for space heating. The first part of the decision process of whether I should consider using an air source heat pump to heat my house starts with – "why I am doi…

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Ground source heat pumps don't need immersion heaters

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 6 December 2010 at 11:52 am

Ground source heat pumps don't need immersion heaters

Would you install an 11kW boiler into a building with a 20kW load? No.  The same should be true of ground source heat pumps. Due to the constraints of the UK National Grid there are a number of large properties with single phase electricity, where the upgrade cost to three phase sup…

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Green Deal - will the advice be good enough?

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 3 December 2010 at 9:15 am

Green Deal - will the advice be good enough?

You're probably painfully aware that there's a lot still to be decided about how the Green Deal will work.  According to DECC the Green Deal process starts with the provision of advice: "All households and businesses will be entitled to an energy efficiency assessment as part of Green …

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Why would anyone be interested in the Green Deal?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 December 2010 at 8:42 am

Why would anyone be interested in the Green Deal?

This question was asked of the Question Time panel at RegenSW's conference last week, and their answers weren't a ringing endorsement of the Green Deal, the government's flagship policy for making domestic housing more energy efficient. "I'm pessimistic that it will work," said Ian Marchant, chie…

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Renewable heat incentive - the latest news

Posted by Howard Johns on 30 November 2010 at 1:05 pm

Renewable heat incentive - the latest news

A policy document on the renewable heat incentive should be out by the end of the year. Room for negotiation around design and tariff levels is pretty much over and DECC will be seeking technical standards approval for the renewable heat incentive in January. The good response to the cons…

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Future of feed-in tariff still uncertain

Posted by Howard Johns on 26 November 2010 at 10:38 am

Future of feed-in tariff still uncertain

The uncertainty surounding the future of feed-in tariffs continues after yesterday’s meeting between energy minister Greg Barker and representatives of the PV industry and other stakeholders. Its purpose was to discuss the implications of the comprehensive spending review on the scheme. He confirm…

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Solar PV farms - are they good for the UK?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 November 2010 at 3:34 pm

Solar PV farms - are they good for the UK?

Whether large scale solar PV farms are relevant for the long term in the UK was one the first questions asked at RegenSW's Question Time debate this week. No, was the short answer from Sarah Rhodes, the head of land-based renewables at DECC, although she put it less baldly than that. Due to the …

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Win a GEO Minim energy meter

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2010 at 11:37 am

Win a GEO Minim energy meter

What's the best energy efficiency measure you've taken at home. It may be the one that saved you the most off your heating bills, or the easy, quick fix that blocks off the draught that used to howl around your ankles while you watched TV. Or maybe it's the ingenious bodge job, that didn't cost you …

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Solar PV panels installed on 10thC Saxon Church

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2010 at 8:39 am

Solar PV panels installed on 10thC Saxon Church

Solar PV panels have just been installed in the Grade 1 listed, Saxon church in Wing, Buckinghamshire. Inspired by seeing the Bishop of Lincoln switching on a solar PV installation on a Grade 1 Listed church in Sleaford on Songs of Praise, former church warden Martin Findlay thought "we could do …

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Is your fridge an electricity-gobbling monster?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 November 2010 at 8:46 am

Is your fridge an electricity-gobbling monster?

Did you know that 23% of domestic energy use comes from fridges? That's a big percentage of electricity bills. Aaargh! Is your fridge a guzzler? Have you got an A++++ rated fridge? Well that's great, but it isn't the only way to lower the consumption of your fridge. The energy ratings system mea…

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Choosing a wind turbine installer

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 19 November 2010 at 9:25 am

Choosing a wind turbine installer

If you are considering installing a small wind turbine on your property you want to want to make sure that you get the maximum financial benefit for the electricity produced. Choosing an installer that will ensure that the turbine works well is key. Here are a few things you should consider. 1. Bef…

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FOI request reveals cost of paying feed-in tariffs to early adopters

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 November 2010 at 11:01 am

FOI request reveals cost of paying feed-in tariffs to early adopters

A freedom of information request has revealed the costs of paying early adopters of microgeneration the full feed-in tariff. DECC (the department of energy and climate change) estimates that: There are 4,936 installations affected. Annual cost in 2020 of allowing feed-in tariffs at …

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Feed-in tariff is proving a big success

Posted by David Hunt on 15 November 2010 at 9:01 am

Feed-in tariff is proving a big success

The government's feed-in tariff scheme has already got thousands of people generating their own electricity. When it launched the feed-in tariff scheme in April it was one of a range of policies aimed at inducing people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Now, just five months later, an…

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Eliminating the draughts that push up your heating bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 November 2010 at 4:58 pm

Eliminating the draughts that push up your heating bills

Leaks and draughts are a guaranteed way of increasing your heating bills. You might as well throw your money on the woodburner! But, the good news is that it's relatively easy to block the worst ones up, and now, with a new gadget it's very easy to find where the worst ones are. …

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An introduction to air source heat pumps

Posted by John Lightfoot on 12 November 2010 at 11:57 am

An introduction to air source heat pumps

I thought I would start my series of blogs on Air Source Heat Pumps with an explanation of how a heat pump works and how in particular how a Air Source Heat Pump works. If you want to look at the diagram alongside the text, double click on it to enlarge it. To start, just imagin…

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Renewable heat incentive: to wait, or go ahead?

Posted by Roger Croft on 10 November 2010 at 9:57 am

Renewable heat incentive: to wait, or go ahead?

Anyone considering a renewable heating technology such as: solar hot water, biomass, ground or air source heat pumps, may be best placed to wait for a detailed announcement on rates and technologies covered by the Renewable Heat Incentive. However, self builders, broken-down boilers…

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MCS and the use of subcontractors: how it all works

Posted by John Martin on 9 November 2010 at 10:46 am

MCS and the use of subcontractors: how it all works

Who needs to be MCS approved (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) and how do subcontractors fit in? These questions are often asked by participants on QMSA's national seminar programme. Under MCS it is the business that is approved and not the individual engineers. MCS allows a business to beco…

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Planning an energy efficient renovation

Posted by Tim Pullen on 8 November 2010 at 9:35 am

Planning an energy efficient renovation

Why is it that people starting renovation projects have "so much to think about it is difficult to know where to start"? I am yet to meet a self-builder undertaking a new build that makes that complaint. Maybe the answer is that renovation is not treated with the same consideration and respect a…

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Get ready for winter: make your house cosy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 November 2010 at 9:40 am

Get ready for winter: make your house cosy

Last winter was one of shivering on the sofa, extra jumpers, and exorbitant heating bills. If you haven't already done anything to make your house a bit cosier, and warmer for winter, now's the time to get on and do it. The great news is that there are lots of small, practical and cheap things t…

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Solar thermal and other questions: what we do and don't know about the Renewable Heat Incentive

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 November 2010 at 11:17 am

Solar thermal and other questions: what we do and don't know about the Renewable Heat Incentive

This is an extract from a blog by Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council on the renewable heat incentive: We do know: DECC has secured Treasury approval for the overall spending envelope for the RHI up to and including 2014/15 – £860m in total; these funds are 20%…

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14 things to ask your biomass boiler installer

Posted by Jon Edge on 3 November 2010 at 9:20 am

14 things to ask your biomass boiler installer

Biomass is still pretty new to a lot of people in the UK. However, it is a tried and tested technology, used successfully for many years in other countries. Biomass boilers are a modern and very low carbon alternative to fossil fuels, especially oil or LPG and will give you as much heat and hot w…

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Life gets cosy in social housing in Manchester

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 November 2010 at 12:55 pm

Life gets cosy in social housing in Manchester

Warm homes and lower energy bills for tenants have combined with lower carbon emissions from social housing managed by Ashden Award finalist Northwards Housing in Manchester. The company has gone well beyond the minimum standards of energy efficiency required by the Decent Homes programme which i…

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Heat pumps and underfloor heating: perfect partners?

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 1 November 2010 at 11:01 am

Heat pumps and underfloor heating: perfect partners?

Underfloor heating is often portrayed as the perfect partner for heat pumps. With its large heat emitting area and low input temperature requirements it seems to provide the ideal choice to offer the maximum efficiency from the heat pump. However, is that always the case? With any underfl…

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Schools lead the way on energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 October 2010 at 3:14 pm

Schools lead the way on energy efficiency

Electricity consumption has halved at an award-winning Devon school thanks to the energy saving measures it has introduced. Okehampton College’s good practice and leadership role was recognised as it was a finalist at the 2010 Ashden Awards. The college has replaced 3,000 fluorescent lights wit…

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Deeming export of electricity for feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 October 2010 at 9:05 am

Deeming export of electricity for feed-in tariff

Deeming is usually associated with the proposed renewable heat incentive, but it is also used in the feed-in tariff to estimate the amount of electricity that is exported to the grid by microgeneration systems. We recently received the following question: "It would be interesting and informative …

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12 things you may not know about the Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 October 2010 at 12:35 pm

12 things you may not know about the Green Deal

The Green Deal is aiming high, with a goal of retrofitting 14m homes in a decade. Minister of state for energy and climate change, Greg Barker spoke in detail about plans at today's online question time event organised by Great British Refurb. Here's some of what was revealed. 1. The green deal w…

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Spending review: a solar industry view

Posted by Howard Johns on 21 October 2010 at 10:07 am

Spending review: a solar industry view

Well it is the day after the spending review and I can’t help feeling the renewables sector has been very lucky. The Feed in Tariff (FiT) will remain and we are going to have a renewable heat incentive (RHI). After months of campaigning and ups and downs the waiting game is over and the solar indu…

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Spending review: what it means for home owners

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 October 2010 at 4:27 pm

Spending review: what it means for home owners

Given the dread with which most of the renewables world has anticipated the comprehensive spending review, it has been quite a good day. The Chancellor confirmed that there will be a renewable heat incentive and that he (probably) won't be tinkering with the feed-in tariff before the first scheduled…

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Solar PV: check whether it's suitable for your house

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 October 2010 at 2:10 pm

With the feed-in tariff, solar PV panels are more accessible than they have ever been, but you still need to make sure you've got a suitable site before you install them. In this video, Stuart Houghton of Abacus Renewable Energy talks through the key things to check: …

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Uncertainty over renewable heat is delaying installations

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 October 2010 at 12:37 pm

Uncertainty over renewable heat is delaying installations

People are delaying installing renewable heat technologies such as solar hot water panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps until they know whether or not the renewable heat incentive is going ahead according to our new poll. 85% of respondents to a YouGen poll said they are waiting until they know wh…

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Common problems with Ground Source Heat Pumps

Posted by on 14 October 2010 at 10:14 am

Common problems with Ground Source Heat Pumps

A poorly designed and installed ground source heat pump system will, effectively, be heating a property on electricity alone, which is by far the most expensive solution on a unit-by-unit basis. So what are the common problems that befall GSHPs? 1.  Slinkies. A slinky, in heat pump…

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MPs come out in favour of renewable heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 October 2010 at 12:57 pm

MPs come out in favour of renewable heat

MPs from all parties demonstrated their support for renewable heat yesterday, at an event organised by Friends of the Earth and the Renewable Energy Association. Zac Goldsmith, Caroline Lucas and Alan Whitehead were some of the 47 MPs photographed in front of the Houses of Parliament and unde…

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Radical ideas to change the energy sector wanted

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 October 2010 at 12:22 pm

Radical ideas to change the energy sector wanted

Have you ever had an idea about how we could do things better? Well now's your chance to feed-in to what the future of energy generation, distribution, storage and use might look like. Ideas tend to come when your mind's not on them. When you're out for a walk, having a shower, cooking the tea. N…

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Is there a limit on solar PV generation? Q&A

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 11 October 2010 at 9:27 am

Is there a limit on solar PV generation? Q&A

Q:  I am about to install a solar PV panel system on my roof and have come across a problem with my Distribution Network Operator (DNO). I want to take full advantage of the feed-in tariff and was planning a 3.995Kwh system on my roof. Unfortunately the DNO insist on increasing the cost to incl…

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Solar thermal panels: flat plate or evacuated tube?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 8 October 2010 at 9:08 am

Which type of solar water heating system works best. Watch this video to weigh up the pros and cons of flat panel versus evacuated tubes. The main difference comes down to the efficiency. With evacuated tubes, the vacuum provides almost perfect insulation. A fl…

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Common problems with Air Source Heat Pumps

Posted by Duncan McIntosh on 6 October 2010 at 9:35 am

Common problems with Air Source Heat Pumps

An Air Source Heat Pump is generally a simpler, more straightforward system, than its ground source cousin. An air source heat pump is best suited to houses that do not have sufficient room for ground collectors, have an outdoor pool or generally have a smaller heating requirement. Well i…

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'Free' solar panels are not a great deal, says Which?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 October 2010 at 2:10 pm

'Free' solar panels are not a great deal, says Which?

Installations companies stand to benefit more than consumers from 'free' solar pv panels according to new research from Which?. They found that householders could save as much as £10,500 over the next 25 years by buying their own solar pv panels (to generate electricity) instead of signing up to…

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How to insulate your loft conversion - Q&A

Posted by Tim Pullen on 4 October 2010 at 9:35 am

How to insulate your loft conversion - Q&A

Q: The house I bought recently has the loft converted into extra rooms. Should I pay a company to take down the plasterboards on the wall and ceilings and install insulation such as Kingspan boards, as there is only 10cm of insulation according to the blueprints? A: To answer this question di…

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Solar hot water panels: 7 things to check before you install

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 1 October 2010 at 9:18 am

This video blog highlights 7 things to check before you install a solar hot water system. 1.  The most important thing is to have a suitable roof for the collectors (panels). South-facing is idea, but anywhere between south east and south west is ok.&n…

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Do solar panels affect house sales?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 September 2010 at 3:35 pm

Do solar panels affect house sales?

A solar panel installation should make a house more desirable, shouldn't it? There's the saving on energy bills from using home-generated electricity, and even at the lower early adopters feed-in rate the combination of generation rate and export rate begin to add up to a nice bit of extra income. …

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Wind and solar electricity: a practical DIY guide

Posted by Max Sillars on 27 September 2010 at 9:34 am

Wind and solar electricity: a practical DIY guide

So many guides to wind and solar electricity repeat the same high level principles that by now we all know, and then fizzle out into lists of pricey sounding specialist consultancies. Not Andy Reynolds! This is definitely the best guide I've read over the last decade. The layout of the informati…

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Feed-in tariffs: make sure your installer is accredited

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 September 2010 at 8:53 am

Feed-in tariffs: make sure your installer is accredited

Feed-in tariffs are only available if you are installing an MCS accredited product and using an MCS accredited installer. There's no margin for error on this, so it's worth checking that this is the case before going ahead with an installation. Without the feed-in tariff the return on your investmen…

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