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View blog posts for category: Solar electricity

Eden Council backs down in solar building regs battle

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 July 2011 at 12:33 pm

Eden Council backs down in solar building regs battle

We won. Our three month campaign, launched by Eco-Environments and supported by YouGen, to end chaos surrounding planning and building regs for solar panel installations has succeeded. Eden District Council in Cumbria, has confirmed to Eco-Environments that it will no longer require people to apply …

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How to get a grant for solar panels: tips from a community shop

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 July 2011 at 9:46 am

How to get a grant for solar panels: tips from a community shop

Solar PV panels have cut energy bills by around 15% at Dalwood Community Shop in Devon. With four freezers to run, energy bills are its largest outgoing, so the long and involved process of seeking grants to install them was worthwhile according to co-ordinator Shelagh Beak. As well as lower bill…

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Solar PV has quartered school's electricity bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 July 2011 at 9:39 am

Solar PV has quartered school's electricity bills

Solar PV panels have made a 'huge difference financially to Shute Community Primary School, a small school in rural East Devon. Based in an old draughty building, and with a portacabin heated solely by electricity, the school's bills were 'horrific' says administrator Jenny Hardiman. Much to…

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Solar PV: how to complain if you've been mis-sold

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 July 2011 at 9:25 am

Solar PV: how to complain if you've been mis-sold

Q: I just received a call from Anglian (0845 296 9668) who were offering an incredible 40% discount on their products. They were claiming you don't need direct sunlight for solar PV, only daylight and that PV can be placed on a north facing roof. Is there someone who I could complain to, as I…

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Three things to consider before running a heat pumps with solar or wind power

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 30 June 2011 at 10:46 am

Three things to consider before running a heat pumps with solar or wind power

There is currently a lot of interest in becoming completely self-sufficient in terms of energy and heat. Security of supply, being green, low running costs, etc are all motives for doing this and more and more people are asking is it possible to run their ground source heat pump from their solar pv …

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What is the aim of the feed-in tariff? And what do you think it should be?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 June 2011 at 12:20 pm

What is the aim of the feed-in tariff? And what do you think it should be?

Ask 10 people what the aim of the feed-in tariff is, and you'll probably get 10 different answers, at least that's the impression I got at this week's MicrogenerationUK conference. DECC officials were speaking about the renewable heat incentive and the feed-in tariff at a session on financing…

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Solar PV companies use dodgy sales tactics and give poor advice, says Which?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 June 2011 at 10:29 am

Solar PV companies use dodgy sales tactics and give poor advice, says Which?

Which? is calling for the MCS certification scheme and the REAL consumer code for solar PV installers to be improved and better enforced to stop companies using hard sales tactics and giving bad advice. In a recent investigation, the consumer champion asked 12 certified companies to survey a hous…

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How important is voltage for a solar PV inverter?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 22 June 2011 at 9:20 am

How important is voltage for a solar PV inverter?

Q: I am thinking of installing a solar electricity system. I believe that the inverter is a key element. One company is peddling an inverter that operates at half the voltage of others. Is this an important factor when deciding which system to go for. A: All inverter manufacturers have …

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Planning permission and building regulations: the rules for solar installations explained

Posted by David Hunt on 14 June 2011 at 9:50 am

Planning permission and building regulations: the rules for solar installations explained

Councils asking for planning permission, or building regulations applications for solar panel installations has been much in the press of late. Indeed much of that press has been linked to the campaign by YouGen and ourselves. The campaign has been picked up and supported by shadow climate change…

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New feed-in tariff rates announced for large scale solar

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 June 2011 at 9:50 am

New feed-in tariff rates announced for large scale solar

As expected, the Government has confirmed that it will slash the feed-in tariff for installations over 50kW from 1 August 2011. Rates for domestic sized installations, and systems installed before that date will not be affected. The changes were defended by Greg Barker, climate change minister, w…

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Storing microgenerated electricity will shift power from energy companies to householders

Posted by James Page on 9 June 2011 at 10:03 am

Storing microgenerated electricity will shift power from energy companies to householders

In general self-sufficient communities are inherently sustainable. Not until the advent of companies whose very existence depended on an ever increasing trade in coal, oil or electricity did demand for energy, and carbon emissions, get out of hand. The question is how can we keep the benefits of bei…

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Renewable energy may be included in the Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 June 2011 at 9:08 am

Renewable energy may be included in the Green Deal

The Government's announcement last week on measures being considered for inclusion in the Green Deal, and its thinking on consumer protection, went some way to allay criticisms of the scheme. The Green Deal is expected to offer loans of up to £10,000 over a period of up to 25 years. To qualify f…

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Shadow energy minister puts pressure on government over planning for solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 June 2011 at 10:50 am

Shadow energy minister puts pressure on government over planning for solar panels

Shadow Energy Minister Huw Irranca-Davies has secured a commitment from DECC Minister Greg Barker to examine the issue of councils delaying the installation of household solar panels.  Following concerns raised with him and fellow Shadow Minister Luciana Berger, by Eco-Environments a…

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Manufacturer's claims for solar PV performance stand up to scrutiny

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 31 May 2011 at 9:20 am

Manufacturer's claims for solar PV performance stand up to scrutiny

Offering our customers the best products available is a key commitment for SunGift Solar, and thorough research and testing of products to ensure that they stand up to manufacturer’s claims is part of that. We always try to visit manufacturing plants and company head quarters and meet with the key…

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Using solar PV to heat your domestic hot water

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 26 May 2011 at 10:25 am

Using solar PV to heat your domestic hot water

Q: Having recently installed Solar PV, I will soon be replacing our old boiler and hot water cylinder. The heating and water run on gas. Does it now make sense to use electricity to heat the hot water for the house? A: This is a really interesting conundrum - well I think it is - but maybe I …

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Council's planning policy stands in the way of solar progress

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2011 at 9:06 am

Council's planning policy stands in the way of solar progress

West Lancashire Borough Council is the latest to be caught demanding that homeowners formally apply for permission to have solar panels installed – something the Government has said is not required. The council is writing to residents telling them "it is in your own interest to submit a formal …

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Is your council blocking your solar PV installation?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 May 2011 at 11:05 am

Is your council blocking your solar PV installation?

A new campaign is calling for local councils to stop making it difficult for householders to install renewable energy. Government policy says that in most cases domestic renewable energy installations are permitted development. Yet this isn't stopping councils like Eden Valley in Cumbria from ma…

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How to store your solar generated electricity to use in the evening

Posted by Chris Rudge on 11 May 2011 at 9:28 am

How to store your solar generated electricity to use in the evening

Q: I have installed solar panels and am amazed at the power I am creating.  This is great in sunlight hours - but has anything been produced to store this power so I can use it in the evenings?  This is such a waste of free power, surely someone somewhere must have this on board.  …

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Solar PV may add premium to house price

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 May 2011 at 10:20 am

Solar PV may add premium to house price

There is strong evidence that homes with solar PV systems have sold for a premium over comparable homes without solar PV. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that a 3.1kW PV system added an average premium of $17,000 (just over £10,000) to house prices. A study done in Sa…

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How easy is it to use renewable energy 'off-grid'?

Posted by David Hunt on 6 May 2011 at 9:38 am

How easy is it to use renewable energy 'off-grid'?

Q: A friend owns a remote property and has been quoted approx £60k to have his 4 bed house connected to the mains network. He was wondering if he would be better off investing in solar panels or wind generation but he needs a constant supply. Will solar panels cope or would he need a generator too.…

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Which energy company is the most helpful about the feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 April 2011 at 9:44 am

Which energy company is the most helpful about the feed-in tariff

Choosing your feed-in tariff supplier is important. Their efficiency, or lack of it, will affect how quickly and accurately you get paid for the electricity you generate, and you don't have to use the same supplier as you use to buy electricity. A recent blog outlined the questions you sh…

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Micro inverters vs string inverters - which works best?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 19 April 2011 at 8:45 am

Micro inverters vs string inverters - which works best?

The yield and efficiency of solar PV panels is a constant topic of debate. Talk of kWp and kWh as well as percentage efficiencies of solar PV modules rings out at energy clubs across the land. This is just the headline information though. Just as an obsession with a car's top speed or the…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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'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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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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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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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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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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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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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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