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Chris Huhne breaks promise to microgeneration pioneers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 September 2010 at 10:06 am

Chris Huhne breaks promise to microgeneration pioneers

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green):  Will the Government backdate the clean energy cashback scheme and any future renewable heat incentive to ensure that those who pioneer the technology are properly rewarded and supported? Chris Huhne: The hon. Lady makes a point that is dear to m…

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Are your PV panels keeping up with the Jones'?

Posted by Lisa Clark on 19 September 2010 at 5:45 pm

Are your PV panels keeping up with the Jones'?

Ten years ago, awkward dinner conversations focused on one-upmanship around mobile technology.  Nowadays, conversations might turn to how much power your neighbour's solar PV panels are generating compared to your own.  One might start quoting panel specifications, IV curves and inverter e…

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Government breaks feed-in tariff promise for early adopters

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 September 2010 at 5:44 pm

Government breaks feed-in tariff promise for early adopters

Tories and LibDems both promised equal feed-in tariff rates to early adopters of renewable energy in the run up to the general election. Now the coalition government has broken that promise and we're calling on early adopters, and others that care about the shift to renewable energy, to let their M…

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Heat pumps: 12 tips for people thinking of installing one

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 September 2010 at 10:03 am

Heat pumps: 12 tips for people thinking of installing one

Heat pumps are worth considering if your home is one of the 5 million or so that is off the gas grid, or in new build properties, according to new field trials from the Energy Saving Trust (EST). It offers the following advice for people thinking of installing a heat pump. 1.    Th…

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Heat pumps: field trials reveal good and bad installations

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 September 2010 at 9:17 am

Heat pumps: field trials reveal good and bad installations

The good news is that heat pumps can operate well in the UK, as long as they are well-designed and installed, and the customer understands how to use the controls. The bad news is that the Energy Saving Trust’s (EST) field trial of 83 heat pumps found that isn’t always the case. System effici…

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Find out what an energy efficient home really looks like

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2010 at 2:22 pm

Find out what an energy efficient home really looks like

SuperHome owners across the country are throwing open their doors this month to inspire others to reduce the energy needed to run their house. These aren't high tech new builds, but old homes, that the owners have renovated to reduce carbon emissions by at least 60%. Convinced that seeing is beli…

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Solar PV across different facing roofs

Posted by Chris Rudge on 3 September 2010 at 12:59 pm

Solar PV across different facing roofs

Q: I'm thinking of installing solar PV panels on two roof aspects, one south facing the other east. Can you please explain in layman's language what is meant by 'series' and 'parallel'. Different installers are recommending one or the other or both!  A: Unlike battery charging PV systems, a…

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Feed-in tariff registration: why is it taking so long?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 September 2010 at 9:55 am

Feed-in tariff registration: why is it taking so long?

I've heard a number of complaints from people about how long it's taking to register their solar or wind installation for the feed-in tariff, so when I was talking to Ofgem about grants this week, I asked about that too. It appears that the delay is mostly in migrating installations that were reg…

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Good news on grants and feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 September 2010 at 2:22 pm

Good news on grants and feed-in tariffs

Many schools and community groups are being told they can claim the feed-in tariff and keep grants received under the Low Carbon Building Programme, following months of uncertainty. Under threat of having to pay back their grant many organisations faced financial difficulty. Their calculations pr…

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Solar hot water: It's the best thing I ever did

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 August 2010 at 9:53 am

Solar thermal panels are a no-brainer for John Wood of East Devon, as he explains in this video: …

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Solar thermal panels are possible with a combi boiler

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 27 August 2010 at 9:56 am

You will find more up to date information on this subject in this blog (28/1/15).  Solar hot water panels require a cylinder, but it is possible to use them with a combi boiler. This video explains how it works. And for those who prefer to read the information, here's a sum…

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Is there enough wood in the UK for biomass?

Posted by Jon Edge on 24 August 2010 at 5:02 pm

Is there enough wood in the UK for biomass?

As the market for biomass boilers grows in the UK, there is concern that the wood supply will not be able to meet this demand, now and in the future. There are many factors that affect the answer to this question, but the short answer is yes, there is enough wood for a local UK biomass industry. …

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Poll reveals Government is on the wrong track with Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 August 2010 at 12:01 pm

Poll reveals Government is on the wrong track with Green Deal

The Government is talking to big national retailers about delivering the Green Deal, yet our poll on YouGen found that 84% of people would trust locally-based, specialist suppliers more than national retailers such as M&S, Tesco (15%). The idea for the poll came from Greg Barker saying that "…

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Selling the electricity you generate to the grid

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 August 2010 at 10:13 am

Selling the electricity you generate to the grid

The feed-in tariff has made it simpler to sell the electricity you generate, but don't use in the house, back to the grid. It has set standard rates to be paid for electricity generated which are dependent on type of technology and size of system, and all exported electricity is paid at 3p per kWh. …

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Are council planning departments making it difficult to install solar panels?

Posted by Rob Palgrave on 18 August 2010 at 9:27 am

Are council planning departments making it difficult to install solar panels?

Installing solar PV panels should be easier for home-owners since a planning appeal confirmed what is allowed under permitted development. Planning departments at some councils in England seem to want to make it difficult for householders to install photovoltaic solar panels. But as a result …

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Biogas -an inspiring tale from the Ashden Awards

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 August 2010 at 10:56 am

Biogas -an inspiring tale from the Ashden Awards

Inspiring is the only word to describe a day at the Ashden Awards 2010. Sustainable energy champions from around the UK and from the all over the world are recognised for the work they do, and it’s a great privilege to hear them describing the difference they make to people’s lives. The overs…

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Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 4: consumer confidence

Posted by on 13 August 2010 at 9:26 am

Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 4: consumer confidence

Anyone investing in microgeneration will need between £4,000 and £25,000 to get set up. This is significant expenditure for any household and the homeowner wants peace of mind that they are opting for the right technology at the right scale and the right people to install it. Our survey confirm…

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Free solar panels: is it too good to be true?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 August 2010 at 8:54 am

Free solar panels: is it too good to be true?

Solar PV panels worth £10-12,000, installed on your roof, free of charge - it sounds too good to be true, but is it really? The 'rent a roof' model, as it is known, is proving attractive to installers and investors. A Shade Greener, Homesun and Isis Solar are just three of compa…

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Renewable heat incentive: deeming explained part 2

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 9 August 2010 at 2:11 pm

Renewable heat incentive: deeming explained part 2

In the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) consultation published by the last administration, the incentive will be paid to households against a "deemed" amount of heat, rather than the heat actually used. Put simply, deeming is a method used to estimate how much heat is required to provide comfortab…

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Feed-in tariff for early adopters: an update

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 August 2010 at 10:28 am

Feed-in tariff for early adopters: an update

Prior to the general election, the Conservatives promised that early adopters of microgeneration technologies would receive full feed-in tariffs (and not the much lower 9p rate currently on offer). Since the coalition government formed there has been a deafening silence from Whitehall on the subject…

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Inverters for solar PV panels: your questions answered

Posted by Chris Rudge on 6 August 2010 at 8:52 am

Inverters for solar PV panels: your questions answered

Q1: I hear that inverters for solar PV systems typically last a maximum of 5 years, (Sunnyboy ones seem to fall over in Cambridge after a year, because of the way the grid is here). At £1,000 a pop, that makes a big difference to the economics of PV/ FITs, so it would be great to have someo…

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Smelly brown water from my rainwater tank!!

Posted by Barry Nutley on 4 August 2010 at 8:30 am

Smelly brown water from my rainwater tank!!

Q: Smelly brown water is coming through my rainwater harvesting system. I have been advised to add chlorine to the underground tank. What do you think? A: Whilst that will work. It's not the ideal solution. Adding chlorine will probably solve the problem in the short term, but realistically you …

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What types of solar PV panels are there?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 2 August 2010 at 9:58 am

What types of solar PV panels are there?

Photovoltaic solar panels (PV) come in many different forms. Do you know your polycrystalline from your mono, or thin film from hybrid? No - I thought not, and frankly I do not think I would if I were not in the industry! There are a number of different types of solar photovoltaic systems…

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Feed-in tariffs boost growth of UK solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 July 2010 at 9:15 am

Feed-in tariffs boost growth of UK solar panels

The feed-in tariff is expected to boost growth of solar panels on British roofs fivefold this year, and 30 times over by 2015 according to a report from Price Waterhouse Coopers. By 2015, the researchers estimate that 1,000 MW of electricity will be generated by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Ev…

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An introduction to community wind power

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 21 July 2010 at 9:37 am

An introduction to community wind power

The feed-in tariff has certainly had an impact on this industry and kept us busy over the last months, so it's been a while since I have blogged on this website. A number of people have asked about setting up a community wind turbine. A number of community wind farms have been set up using large …

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Solar hot water delivered quicker and cheaper

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 July 2010 at 9:10 am

Solar hot water delivered quicker and cheaper

A system that delivers solar water heating at a lower cost, quicker installation and with no need to buy a new cylinder was one of the finalists in the 2010 Ashden Awards for sustainable energy. John Willis invented the Willis Solasyphon because he found that the cost and disruption of installing…

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Why solar PV panels don't work so well in the heat

Posted by Chris Rudge on 19 July 2010 at 9:32 am

Why solar PV panels don't work so well in the heat

During these last few weeks of hot sun, which are a welcome change from the rain of previous  few years, we have been getting calls from customers asking why the output from their solar PV panels is down, even though there is bright sun beaming down onto it. The simple answer is solar heatin…

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Solar panels are now an investment opportunity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 July 2010 at 11:40 am

Solar panels are now an investment opportunity

There are lots of reasons people install solar panels on their roof. It may be to protect themselves from rising energy prices, a desire to reduce their carbon footprint, or concern about energy security. Until recently, it certainly wasn't to make money. However, two things have changed. The int…

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Is water the new carbon?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 15 July 2010 at 11:20 am

Is water the new carbon?

I've mentioned the importance of water saving in previous blogs, but is it set to become the most talked about environmental issue? I recently read an article eluding to this: David Symons, director of consultancy WSP Environment & Energy, before his presentation at IWEX on Wednesday, Is w…

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Can Greg Barker, and his Green Deal, make insulation sexy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2010 at 10:56 am

Can Greg Barker, and his Green Deal, make insulation sexy?

Energy efficiency has been the poor relation of British energy policy, according to Greg Barker, minister for climate change in the coalition government. Speaking in the debate on energy efficiency on 30 June, he outlined how he plans to raise its status. He will: 1.    Introduce t…

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The Green Deal: who would you prefer to deliver it?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2010 at 10:56 am

The Green Deal: who would you prefer to deliver it?

For mass take-up of energy saving measures we need effective financing schemes, so we welcome the glimpses of detail on the Green Deal that Greg Barker gave us at the end of June. However, it’s not enough to get a clear view of how the scheme will work. How will it be delivered? Barker said…

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Greg Barker launches microgeneration consultation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 July 2010 at 1:01 pm

Greg Barker launches microgeneration consultation

The government launched the first stage of its strategy to help communities become more self sufficient in how they use heat and power yesterday. “I want to see more homes, communities and businesses generating their own energy. We can literally bring power back to the people," said Greg Ba…

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Early adopters and the feed-in tariff: an update

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 July 2010 at 10:05 am

Early adopters and the feed-in tariff: an update

The Conservative party promised, prior to the election, that early adopters of microgeneration will get the feed-in tariffs. Since the election the silence on the subject has been deafening. Until now. An early adopter has just sent me this letter from DECC: "As set out in the Coalition Progr…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: yes please, but with changes

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 9 July 2010 at 11:16 am

Renewable Heat Incentive: yes please, but with changes

First let's get something straight. I think the renewable heat incentive (RHI) is a good idea. Rewarding people for their contribution to reducing carbon emissions is great and will stimulate the market. However, in its current form the RHI may not reduce emissions, and due to lack of Government cla…

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Can I get the feed-in tariff and a grant?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 July 2010 at 12:15 pm

Can I get the feed-in tariff and a grant?

Community groups and schools that received Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) phase 2 grants have been told that if they want to receive the feed-in tariff they will have to pay the grant back.  As many of them went ahead and installed in the belief that they would be entitled to the feed-in …

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Scottish home renewables grants expected to close in 3 weeks

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 July 2010 at 10:01 am

Scottish home renewables grants expected to close in 3 weeks

Scottish householders are being urged to snap up grants for home renewables before the cash runs out. Grants are still available for 30% of the cost, up to a maximum of £4,000 for heating technologies like wood pellet boilers, heat pumps or solar water heating. (The LCBP grants in England is alread…

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Feed-in tariffs: how to claim them

Posted by John Martin on 5 July 2010 at 9:39 am

Feed-in tariffs: how to claim them

Feed-in tariffs are now up and running and many people are keen to take advantage of the potential returns. This is a guide to how to qualify and apply to receive these payments. If you are applying for an installation commissioned after 1 April 2010 you will need to ensure the following: …

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Ashden Award winner an inspiration for community energy schemes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 July 2010 at 12:12 pm

Ashden Award winner an inspiration for community energy schemes

Energy use on the Isle of Eigg is half the national average and carbon emissions have fallen by 47% since the islanders switched to renewable energy. The islanders' pioneering approach has won them the 2010 UK Ashden Award, and you can watch the video case study here. Until Febuary 2008 each …

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Eco-renovation transforms Devon village hall

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 June 2010 at 9:02 am

Eco-renovation transforms Devon village hall

With thick insulation, ground source heat pumps feeding underfloor heating, and solar panels on the roof to power the heat pump, Branscombe village hall in East Devon must be one of the most energy efficient in the country. However, managing an ambitious project like this wasn't an easy task. It …

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Six tips to save you from solar panel cowboys

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 28 June 2010 at 9:07 am

Six tips to save you from solar panel cowboys

Solar hot water is intrinsically an ethical industry. We all want to save the planet don't we? So we need to ensure that unscrupulous companies do not thrive and give us all a bad name! When there is a chance of making a buck or two it will always attract the greedy and less scrupulous businesses…

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DIY solar panel installation: a case study

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2010 at 3:22 pm

Thank you to fuelexplorer for this article:  I did my own solar thermal panel installation, on the slate roof of an old Victorian house, with not the most accessible roof in the world!  Am I pleased with the result? Yes. Could I have designed the system better? Yes. I did quite …

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Energy efficiency is focus of the Coalition's Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2010 at 9:09 am

Energy efficiency is focus of the Coalition's Green Deal

Domestic insulation is top of Chris Huhne's plans for A Green Deal for housing he said yesterday at the Economist UK Energy Summit. He also touched on the (much awaited) renewable heat incentive as he revealed measures in the pipeline from the self-acclaimed "greenest government ever". To summarise…

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England's World Cup match powered by wind farm

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 June 2010 at 9:20 am

England's World Cup match powered by wind farm

Electricity from South Africa's first commercial wind turbine will be given to the Nelson Mandela Bay football stadium (where England play Slovenia tonight) for the World Cup. Electrawinds, a Belgian company, has installed the first of an expected 24 Vestas V90, 1.8MW wind turbines in Port Elizab…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: 'deeming' explained

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 22 June 2010 at 10:53 am

Renewable Heat Incentive: 'deeming' explained

In the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the calculation of how much will be paid for renewable heat production depends on the installation type, as follows: Small scale installation, such as in a home: each installation's entitlement is calculated by multiplying the payment per kW…

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How to avoid bugs in your solar hot water

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 21 June 2010 at 9:07 am

How to avoid bugs in your solar hot water

The plumbing, heating and solar industry is paranoid about legionella and bacterial infections in hot water systems. This is right and proper as the consequences of legionella infection can be fatal in vulnerable people - but it is actually very rare and I am told there are no recorded cases linked …

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Renewable heat incentive: important, but with dangers

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 17 June 2010 at 1:03 pm

Renewable heat incentive: important, but with dangers

The uptake of renewable heat technologies has really dropped off with the renewable heat incentive (RHI) still looming, but no confirmation of the final tariffs or criteria, and the recent removal of the LCBP grants. No doubt things will pick up once the RHI details have been announced there.…

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Ecotricity offers the best tariff for pioneer microgenerators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 June 2010 at 9:25 am

Ecotricity offers the best tariff for pioneer microgenerators

The best generation rates for early adopters of solar electricity and micro electricity who installed their system before the 15 June 2009 cut offs for feed-in tariffs are available from Ecotricity.  The green electricity provider has introduced a new Microtricity scheme that pays 16p a …

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Ask your MP for clarity about the Renewable Heat Incentive

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 June 2010 at 9:44 am

Ask your MP for clarity about the Renewable Heat Incentive

No one can confidently say that renewable heat is a good investment right now, as we don't know whether or not the promised renewable heat incentive will be introduced in April 2011 as laid out by the former Labour government. Making a significant investment when you can't confidently calculate the …

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Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 3: planning

Posted by on 11 June 2010 at 9:32 am

Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 3: planning

Planning permission for renewable energy and microgeneration brings up such a wide range of issues that we're worried you might fall asleep at your computer if we covered them all. So, in this blog, we focus on: The process of planning application and approval Planning directives The pr…

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Introduction to draught proofing your home

Posted by Tim Pullen on 9 June 2010 at 8:37 am

Introduction to draught proofing your home

Have you insulated your house, yet some of the rooms are still cold? Draught proofing may be the answer. Two clients I saw in recently both had this complaint and the solution was the same for both. The complaint; a room that has been insulated is still cold. In one case the problem was immedia…

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Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 June 2010 at 9:22 am

Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

The government is asking for our views on its programme for government. We've had a look at its proposed measures for energy and climate change, and our response is below. You can comment too - but get your skates on, they want to hear from us by Thursday 10 June. Our first thought is of motherho…

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10 tips for choosing a good solar PV installer

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 June 2010 at 2:43 pm

Choosing an installer is always a tricky business, so I asked Stuart Houghton, of Abacus Renewable Energy, who installed our photovoltaic solar panels, what his top tips are. Watch the video, or read on, to find out: 1. Find out ho…

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Barriers to microgeneration part 2: finance

Posted by on 31 May 2010 at 9:37 pm

Barriers to microgeneration part 2: finance

Initial capital outlay is a major barrier to installing microgeneration systems, whatever someone's motivation. Renewable energy installations can cost from £4,000 to £25,000. Access to sums of capital of this size is not realistic for most UK homeowners. So how do we get around this? Especiall…

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Rainwater harvesting: how to avoid sharks

Posted by Barry Nutley on 28 May 2010 at 9:31 am

Rainwater harvesting: how to avoid sharks

A recent report by Which?, suggested that there are many "solar sharks" in the industry. We have been asked if there is a similar problem in the rainwater harvesting industry? And what to look out for? Firstly, let me say that I don't believe that there is the same sort of problem in the industry…

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Uncertainty ahead as Low Carbon Building Programme is cut

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 May 2010 at 12:31 pm

Uncertainty ahead as Low Carbon Building Programme is cut

The Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) grants scheme closed to new applications on Monday. We're calling on the Government to act quickly to eliminate the state of uncertainty facing  consumers and the renewable heat industry as a result. The cut came as part of the Department of Energ…

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Heat pumps: 10 things a good installer should ask

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 24 May 2010 at 12:20 pm

Heat pumps: 10 things a good installer should ask

Finding an installer for a renewable energy technology should be a straight forward exercise. With all the certification an installer has to meet, such as the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), to enable a client to access grants, the installer has to know what they are talking about and be…

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Coalition plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 May 2010 at 4:20 pm

Coalition plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency

So now we know what the department of Energy and Climate Change's priorities are. It believes that "climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action at home and abroad is required. We need to use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions, decarbonise the economy and …

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Goodby HIPs, Hello EPCs: a homeowners guide

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 21 May 2010 at 10:15 am

Goodby HIPs, Hello EPCs: a homeowners guide

Until yesterday, home sellers had to have a Home Information Pack (HIP) in place before they could put their home on the market. HIPs have now been suspended, pending primary legislation for a permanent abolition. Before the election, the Conservative Party promised a consultation on their complete…

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Why on earth would an energy company want me to use less energy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 May 2010 at 2:03 pm

Why on earth would an energy company want me to use less energy?

It's so counter intuitive, I struggle to get my head round it. Why would an energy company want me to use less energy? And, stemming from that, why would the Government use energy companies – whose main interest is surely to sell more energy – to deliver their main energy efficiency measures?&nb…

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Solar PV installations are held up by a shortage of inverters

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 May 2010 at 9:18 am

Solar PV installations are held up by a shortage of inverters

Delays of up to 17 weeks on delivery of inverters is causing problems for solar panel installers. With demand up because of the feed-in tariff, installers cannot finish jobs on time, as they wait for inverters. 'The inverter situation is pretty drastic,' said Chris Aloise, managing director of Eu…

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MCS explained, plus quick guide for wannabe installers

Posted by John Martin on 14 May 2010 at 9:58 am

MCS explained, plus quick guide for wannabe installers

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) appears to be suffering in a similar way as the Gas accreditation scheme did  when it was introduced. It is shrouded in mystery, with rumour-mongers spreading the word that 'none shall pass' and that 'its only for large companies'. This situatio…

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Coaliton seek to increase renewable energy target

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 May 2010 at 3:53 pm

Coaliton seek to increase renewable energy target

Below is the agreement reached between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on the environment. It is one of 11 issues that needed to be resolved between the parties  in order for them to work together. They will be followed in due course by a final coalition agreement, covering the full r…

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Barriers to microgeneration, and how to overcome them.

Posted by on 12 May 2010 at 10:03 am

Barriers to microgeneration, and how to overcome them.

Using microgeneration technology to produce heat and power at home could deliver large amounts of energy, help increase the UK's energy security, reduce our carbon emissions and have a positive influence on consumer behaviour towards energy use. So why are only around 100,000 homes in the UK …

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Five energy sources for heat pumps

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 10 May 2010 at 10:02 am

Five energy sources for heat pumps

A number of energy sources can be used as the heat source for heating buildings. Most commonly, heat pumps draw heat from the air or from the ground. The heat drawn from the ground is, in most cases, stored solar heat, and should not be confused with geothermal heat, though the latter wil…

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Long awaited Baxi Ecogen Micro-CHP unit launched

Posted by Gilly Jones on 6 May 2010 at 2:58 pm

Long awaited Baxi Ecogen Micro-CHP unit launched

See below for comments responding to this news. For the latest see our CHP information page and blogs from: 2015: Is 2015 the year of microCHP? 2011: Is domestic CHP dead and buried?                 …

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How to service your wind turbine

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 4 May 2010 at 10:45 am

How to service your wind turbine

Small wind turbines are designed to have a long life with very little maintenance. The actual servicing required will depend on the brand of turbine installed. Some are designed to have a 15 year service-free life. Most require a simple inspection service each year. You will need access to the tu…

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The future of home energy advice

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 30 April 2010 at 9:16 am

The future of home energy advice

Regulation of Home Energy Advisers (HEAs) is one of the recommendations of a recent strategy report from the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes has recommended. In addition, strategy document Warm homes, greener homes identified a need for well qualified, regulated HEAs to advise and encou…

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Avoiding the solar cowboys

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 April 2010 at 10:01 am

Avoiding the solar cowboys

Only one of 14 solar thermal salespeople proved worthy of recommendation in Which?'s recent investigation into solar panel companies. This is devastating news both for the industry and, more importantly, for people wanting to switch to solar hot water systems. Ten of the companies misled research…

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Renewable Heat Incentive consultation: YouGen's response

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 April 2010 at 10:29 am

Renewable Heat Incentive consultation: YouGen's response

The Renewable Heat Incentive consultation closes today. Here is YouGen's response. If you want to respond yourself, you can email DECC's renewable financial incentives team. Key Issues We strongly ask you to reconsider your policy of excluding those who had systems installed prior to July …

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How much loft insulation is enough?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 19 April 2010 at 10:22 am

How much loft insulation is enough?

Everyone understands the need to insulate the loft but few people know how much is enough. The loft is second only to the walls in terms of the proportion of the heat lost at 25%, but it is by far the easiest to deal with. I often get told that the house is “super-insulated” as …

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Population pressures could make water shortages a UK crisis

Posted by Barry Nutley on 16 April 2010 at 9:20 am

Population pressures could make water shortages a UK crisis

We've had one of the wettest winters in history, and it would be easy to think that we have no issues with the level of potable water in this country. I've mentioned in previous blogs that there are other issues that suggest that water (or potential lack of it) is still a problem we need to address.…

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Does DIY double glazing work?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 14 April 2010 at 9:10 am

Does DIY double glazing work?

Q: Would attaching a 4mm polycarbonate sheet to a single glazed window with magnetic tape (giving an air gap of 3mm) be worthwhile as thermal insulation? Is a 3mm gap too small to be effective? A: A single glazed window will have a U-value of around 5.4W/m2K. A 4mm thick sheet of polycarbonate (a…

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Some questions for prospective parliamentary candidates

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 April 2010 at 9:22 am

Some questions for prospective parliamentary candidates

I know it's unlikely, but if you're short of questions to ask the people seeking your vote on 6 May, here are a few ideas from the combined forces of of the renewable energy industry's trade associations. They published Zero Carbon Switch: Joint Manifesto for Renewables last week, to coincide with t…

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How to buy renewable electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 April 2010 at 10:18 am

How to buy renewable electricity

Until recently the electricity market was flooded with 'green' tariffs, usually for a premium price, with no clear indication of what made them 'green'. Were they just packaging up the renewable energy that they are obliged  to produce under the government’s Renewables …

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How to read IV charts for PV solar panels

Posted by Chris Rudge on 6 April 2010 at 10:14 am

How to read IV charts for PV solar panels

Q: I'm being offered a Sharp 235w panel instead of Powerglaz 235w. The IV (current/voltage) charts look different. Can someone explain IV for me? A: I've just had a look at the charts for the Powerglaz polycrystalline 660235 against the Sharp NU235 Monocrystalline, and see that they do have diff…

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Wind farm in my backyard? Yes please

Posted by Gilly Jones on 31 March 2010 at 9:47 am

Wind farm in my backyard? Yes please

Two wind turbines constitute a wind farm. That's just one of the many facts I learned last week on a tour of the Roskrow Barton Wind Farm near Penryn in Cornwall, courtesy of the The Cornwall Light and Power Company (CLP).   Members of Sid Valley Energy Action Group (SVEAG) invited me…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: join the campaign for equal treatment for existing generators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 March 2010 at 10:19 am

Renewable Heat Incentive: join the campaign for equal treatment for existing generators

More and more people are calling for the renewable heat incentive (also known as the Clean Energy Cashback) to treat existing microgenerators equally. At RegenSW's consultation conference in Bristol earlier this month property developers and installers were flagging it up as important for the scheme…

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Conservative energy policy is a damp squib for renewables

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 March 2010 at 9:30 am

Conservative energy policy is a damp squib for renewables

Twelve actions "to put our energy system back on its feet" are at the heart of the long awaited Conservative energy policy which was finally launched last Friday. Of them, three relate directly to domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency, but it's difficult to see that they add much new to th…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: A homeowners guide

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 March 2010 at 2:09 pm

Renewable Heat Incentive: A homeowners guide

Heat is the biggest use of energy in the UK. Just under half of the UK's CO2 emissions and 60% of domestic energy bills are used on heating space and water. Heat in the UK is currently supplied predominantly by fossil fuels - less than 1% comes from renewable sources. The proposed renewable h…

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Seven steps for servicing your solar thermal system

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 19 March 2010 at 10:09 am

Seven steps for servicing your solar thermal system

How to service a solar thermal system is a really common question asked by many of our customers and prospective customers. Unfortunately there isn't really a definitive answer. It depends on how technically minded you are and how much peace of mind you need. So here are some guidelines: 1. Solar…

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Renewable Heat Incentive is welcomed by industry

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 March 2010 at 10:42 am

Renewable Heat Incentive is welcomed by industry

Ambitious and far-reaching were just some of the words delegates used to welcome the Renewable Heat Incentive proposals at yesterday's consultation event organised by RegenSW. However, they said that more education about renewable heat is needed if the Renewable Heat Incentive is going to suc…

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Is a heat pump suitable for my home? 3 key checks

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 15 March 2010 at 9:59 am

Is a heat pump suitable for my home? 3 key checks

Heat pumps are one of the most talked about renewable technologies - on television, in newspapers and magazines. The way they are portrayed they seem to be the answer to all our problems and will suit all properties. But is this true? Heat pumps (ground, air or water) suit only certain applicatio…

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EDM adds weight to campaign for equal rates for microgeneration pioneers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 March 2010 at 9:29 am

EDM adds weight to campaign for equal rates for microgeneration pioneers

Sixty seven MPs have signed early day motion 953 calling for equal clean energy cashback (feed-in tariff) for pioneer microgenerators. You can check whether your MP is one of them on the parliament website. If not, why not ask them to sign it. The easiest way to do this is at Write to Them. The m…

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Generating my own electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2010 at 9:05 pm

Generating my own electricity

Our new photovoltaic solar panels started generating electricity a month ago today. It was dusk on a cold February day when the system was all ready to go, so I was suprised to see the light flashing on the generation meter and the inverter showing that, even in such poor light, it was making a lit…

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5 tips on choosing a home energy advisor

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 8 March 2010 at 9:35 am

5 tips on choosing a home energy advisor

Every home is different so a visit from a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) or Home Energy Advisor is the best way to get energy efficiency advice. However, choosing the right advisor can be a challenge. A DEA can provide the same energy audit that is legally required if you are selling or l…

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Rainwater harvesting: where are the incentives?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 5 March 2010 at 9:06 am

Rainwater harvesting: where are the incentives?

The recent announcements surrounding the feed-in tariff (FIT) and renwable heat incentive (RHI), are (generally) fantastic news for the renewable industry. But the Government seems to have forgotten about rainwater harvesting. Whilst technically not a renewable technology, water is still an impor…

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Warm homes, greener homes: the government's vision for 2020

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2010 at 9:32 pm

Warm homes, greener homes: the government's vision for 2020

Reduced energy use, savings on energy bills and more comfortable homes in cold weather are the benefits claimed by government of its household energy management strategy, Warm Homes, Greener Homes launched on Tuesday at Ecobuild by Ed Miliband. Its aims are that: Every home, where practic…

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Energy efficiency a priority: call to politicians

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 March 2010 at 10:05 am

Energy efficiency a priority: call to politicians

Companies and NGOs set a benchmark to measure energy efficiency policy against with the release of an energy efficiency statement yesterday. Signatories included Cooperative Group, Friends of the Earth, Green Building Council, Marks & Spencer, the TUC and YouGen. The statement said: We are fa…

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Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 March 2010 at 10:31 am

Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

"I'm just popping down to Tesco for a solar panel" doesn't sound right somehow. Maybe it's just me, but I not sure that the entry of the supermarkets into the renewable energy market is a good thing.  Sainsbury is first out of the starting gates. It opened Home Energy Centres in three of its…

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Will shadow flicker affect a wind planning application?

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 26 February 2010 at 10:20 am

Will shadow flicker affect a wind planning application?

In a recent planning application I was asked to comment on shadow flicker for a very small turbine installation. The turbine in question had a rotor diameter of only 1.7 m. Shadow flicker is caused by the blades of a wind turbine passing in front of the sun and causing an effect similar to drivin…

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Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 22 February 2010 at 9:17 pm

Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

I am a stalwart supporter of feed in tariffs, and anticipate a revolution in UK microgeneration in the next few months as a result. Their introduction is long overdue. However, on Monday I sat through a lengthy discussion both of feed in tariffs (FiTs) and the proposed renewable heat incentiv…

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How much space do I need for a wood pellet stove?

Posted by Mike Mackmurdie on 22 February 2010 at 9:32 am

How much space do I need for a wood pellet stove?

A wood pellet stove which which gives full central heating capability is roughly the same size as one which just heats the room that it's in. The amount of space you need to install one, varies between manufacturers, but on average you're looking at: 520mm width, 1055mm height, 700mm …

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Conservatives support fair treatment for all microgenerators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 February 2010 at 9:07 am

Conservatives support fair treatment for all microgenerators

If elected, the Conservatives will pay early adopters of microgeneration technologies the same rate of Clean Energy Cashback (the government's new financial incentive for renewable generation) as new installers according to a new campaigning website. Charles Hendry, the shadow minister for energy…

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How to use heating controls to reduce your energy bill

Posted by Tim Pullen on 15 February 2010 at 9:27 am

How to use heating controls to reduce your energy bill

The importance of good controls on the heating system cannot be over-emphasised. There are two main reasons: 1. An analogue room thermostat in the lounge or hall will make the heating system heat the whole house to the same temperature as the air around the thermostat, for the whole time the heat…

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Energy efficiency a priority for M&S home insurance

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 February 2010 at 9:41 am

Energy efficiency a priority for M&S home insurance

Recently I asked whether renewable energy affects your house insurance. In the twittering that followed the blog's publication I discovered a home insurance policy that stands out from the crowd for the approach it takes to energy efficiency. Ever since Stuart Rose announced its Plan A, M&S h…

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What's the best mounting for solar panels?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 10 February 2010 at 9:07 am

What's the best mounting for solar panels?

Flush fitting of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to generate electricity has both benefits and downsides over the more popular 'on roof' mounting. The benefit is a PV array that is more integrated-looking, although to keep that essential cooling airflow to ensure the system works at maximum effi…

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Feed-in tariff scheme is shortsighted

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 February 2010 at 12:46 pm

Feed-in tariff scheme is shortsighted

A last, we've got our foot firmly on the road to making renewable energy part of the UK's energy mix. Yes, the Feed-in Tariff rates could be higher. The government's goals for microgeneration could have been more ambitious. But the rates are probably attractive enough, especially in the current e…

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Feed-in tariff: your questions answered

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 February 2010 at 12:02 pm

Feed-in tariff: your questions answered

Read the updated version of this article here. The introduction of the feed-in tariff (known as Clean Energy Cashback scheme) opens a new and exciting era for microgeneration. Here we answer some of the most common questions on the new scheme. If you've got any more, please add a comment bel…

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Feed-in tariff explained in video

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 February 2010 at 3:41 pm

For those of you who prefer your information visually, here's a great video from Solar Century.   …

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12 fascinating facts about wood pellet fuel

Posted by Mike Mackmurdie on 3 February 2010 at 10:52 am

12 fascinating facts about wood pellet fuel

Wood pellets for use with stoves for room heating and for those which give full central heating capability are the subject of my first blog. 1. Wood pellets are manufactured by hot-extruding compressed sawdust which is produced during the working of natural dried wood. The compactness of the …

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