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When eligibility for the feed-in starts: the definitive answer

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 October 2011 at 6:02 am

When eligibility for the feed-in starts: the definitive answer

"What is the start date for my feed-in tariff payments?" and variations on it must be the most frequently asked question we get here at YouGen. Is it the date it's commissioned? Or the date the electricity company gets your application? And what happens if they lose it? Well I've just checked wit…

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Five key ways to get the best from your solar hot water system

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 October 2011 at 1:17 am

Five key ways to get the best from your solar hot water system

Solar hot water systems work best when the user takes control of them, yet only 36 per cent of the householders taking part in the Energy Saving Trust's solar hot water field trial said that their installer gave them information on how they might make best use of their system.   When they di…

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User control is vital for best performing solar water heating

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 October 2011 at 3:23 am

User control is vital for best performing solar water heating

The way householders use their solar thermal system is critical to getting the best results from solar water heating systems, according to new research. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) is calling on installers to give better advice to users on how to control their solar water heating: in terms of volu…

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More clean green energy and less energy waste is the recipe for lower UK energy bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 October 2011 at 9:32 am

More clean green energy and less energy waste is the recipe for lower UK energy bills

Consumers are being misled about the causes of energy bill increases according to Friends of the Earth. The charity points the finger at the Big Six energy companies, saying that energy bills are rocketing mainly because the energy companies have us hooked on ever more expensive imports of gas, coal…

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REAL's top tips to avoid being ripped off by solar cowboys

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 October 2011 at 8:36 am

REAL's top tips to avoid being ripped off by solar cowboys

The REAL Assurance Scheme* has received a surge of complaints about solar PV installers, leading it to assert that rogue traders are taking advantage of the expanding solar panel market to make a killing before the Government adjusts the Feed-In Tariff in the spring. While they haven't yet specifi…

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MCS suspends Proven P35 and P35-2 wind turbines due to faults (revised)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 September 2011 at 9:55 am

MCS suspends Proven P35 and P35-2 wind turbines due to faults (revised)

Proven Energy has gone into liquidation following discovery of an acute technical defect in its 15kW wind turbines (known as P35 and P35-2). Owners of the turbines are advised to temporarily brake them, and sales of these models has been suspended. MCS has suspended them from its accredited product…

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Solar PV, conservation area and planning permission: a case study

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 September 2011 at 8:28 am

Solar PV, conservation area and planning permission: a case study

Steve Plater's, story has a happy ending, but it perfectly illustrates that despite being a "permitted development" the path of a solar pv panel installation doesn't always run smoothly: Our house is metres inside a conservation area (CA) boundary, only because it is built on land which used to …

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Free solar schemes: talk to your mortgage lender before you sign

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 September 2011 at 9:12 am

Free solar schemes: talk to your mortgage lender before you sign

Rumours abound about banks, and whether or not they will let people who hold mortgages with them participate in 'free' or 'rent a roof' solar panels schemes, so I thought I'd investigate. The good news is that most banks will agree to these schemes, subject to certain conditions. Most of the onus…

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Your experience of small scale renewable energy is needed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 September 2011 at 8:32 am

Your experience of small scale renewable energy is needed

Have you installed small scale renewable energy such as solar panels or a wind turbine in the past 18 months? If so, Consumer Focus would like to hear how it went for you. Consumer Focus will use the findings of its research to feed into the government's consultation on the future of the feed-in …

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Feed-in tariff accreditation for micro-hydro to be reviewed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 September 2011 at 9:05 am

Feed-in tariff accreditation for micro-hydro to be reviewed

Micro hydro and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) have had a rocky start. The MCS is designed to protect domestic consumers and covers small scale installations. Access to government incentives such as the feed-in tariff and the renewable heat incentive (RHI) are subject to both the ins…

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Bicton Earth - a case study of building a renewable energy training centre

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2011 at 9:09 am

Bicton Earth - a case study of building a renewable energy training centre

A wide range of renewable technologies will be used in the new installer training centre and community interpretation centre at Bicton College in Devon. Old agricultural barns are being converted into a state-of-the-art centre. The heating will be set up to take first from the solar thermal panel…

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How can we stop the Green Deal being the preserve of a few big companies?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 September 2011 at 9:13 am

How can we stop the Green Deal being the preserve of a few big companies?

Energy minister Greg Barker released an article yesterday outlining how the coalition is meeting its pledge to be the greenest goverment ever. It started well: "Being green and transforming our economy away from dependence on expensive fossil fuels to one powered by low carbon energy is no 'tree …

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Are 4kW solar PV installations a thing of the past as network operaters tighten the rules?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2011 at 5:43 pm

Are 4kW solar PV installations a thing of the past as network operaters tighten the rules?

Q: I want to install a 4kWp solar PV system to maximise my return from the feed-in tariff, but my installer says that Western Power will only let him install a 3.68kWp system. Why is that? A: As more and more people install solar panels, the district network operators (DNOs) are having to wo…

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How competent are renewable energy installers?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 August 2011 at 10:36 am

How competent are renewable energy installers?

Because I have been immersed in all things renewable energy for the past three years, I had almost forgotten just how young the industry still is. Reading the Microgeneration Strategy bought home to me that much of the infrastructure that you kind of assume is in place, just isn't yet. Training i…

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Does MCS certification deliver the protection consumers expect?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 August 2011 at 9:54 am

 Does MCS certification deliver the protection consumers expect?

What do you think of when you hear that a company has received its sector's accreditation? Call me naive, but I'd assumed that it meant that there was a thorough check on its ability to do the job it is there to do. That it means I'll get a high quality service. That the staff are trained to a certa…

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Beware: receiving grants from public funds may make you ineligible for feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 August 2011 at 8:52 am

Beware: receiving grants from public funds may make you ineligible for feed-in tariffs

The feed-in tariff is intended to replace grants from public funds as the main way of incentivising microgeneration. So anyone awarded a public grant to install or buy generating equipment is in danger of not being eligible for the feed-in tariff (unless they repay the grant). There are some exem…

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Money isn't the only motivator for energy efficiency retrofits

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 August 2011 at 9:06 am

Money isn't the only motivator for energy efficiency retrofits

Improved comfort, home improvement and rising energy costs were all motivating factors in encouraging people to improve the energy efficiency of their home, as well the resulting savings in their energy bills. These are the findings of a pilot project undertaken by the London Borough of Sutton, B…

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Wood co-ops offer access to woods, free logs and friendship

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

Wood co-ops offer access to woods, free logs and friendship

Where the wood will come from is one of the issues to consider when investing in a wood burning stove or biomass boiler. The provision of wood pellet and wood chip are growing industries with measurable standards. Log supply, however, generally remains local, with variable quality, and difficulty co…

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How the feed-in tariff rules work for an additional installation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 August 2011 at 9:30 am

How the feed-in tariff rules work for an additional installation

NB: the rules have changed since this blog was published, and it is no longer applicable Q: What happens if I have additional solar PV panels fitted - would the whole of my system qualify for the new feed-in tariff? A: The answer to this question varies, depending on when the first insta…

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Solar PV plus air source heat pumps: a case study of Donyatt village hall

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 August 2011 at 9:34 am

Solar PV plus air source heat pumps: a case study of Donyatt village hall

South east facing solar PV panels on a nearby roof got David Willis thinking that they might be an option for Donyatt Village Hall in Somerset. "They were facing a bit east of south east, and yet the performance is better than my solar pv panels on a south facing roof with slight shade first thi…

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Off-grid solar electricity: a case study of a field studies centre

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 August 2011 at 12:37 pm

Off-grid solar electricity: a case study of a field studies centre

Solar generated electricity is the perfect answer for the Stafford Marsh field studies building on the Axe Estuary wetlands in East Devon. Off-grid, and a hard place to get electricity to, it was a "no brainer" according to nature reserve officer, Fraser Rush. This is the first off-grid installat…

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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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Renewable Heat Premium Payment rates confirmed - but are they enough to kickstart renewable heat?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 July 2011 at 11:22 am

Renewable Heat Premium Payment rates confirmed - but are they enough to kickstart renewable heat?

Capital grants to help with the cost of installing renewable heat technologies will be available from 1 August. Any householder in England, Scotland or Wales can apply for the £300 renewable heat premium payment for solar thermal panels. However, payments for biomass boilers (£950), air sou…

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Ashden Awards winner lists ways to increase uptake of retrofit

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 July 2011 at 10:20 am

Ashden Awards winner lists ways to increase uptake of retrofit

Hampshire-based Radian housing association won the Gold at this year's Ashden Awards, for an ambitious and innovative programme of retrofitting hard-to-treat homes and building eco-homes that far exceed the current minimum standards for energy efficiency. Paul Ciniglio, Radian's sustainability a…

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Why join YouGen?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 July 2011 at 9:55 am

Why join YouGen?

What YouGen membership offers you Tools to help you raise your profile and generate business: YouGen local site search Your customers' recommendations displayed on our independent site Special offers and discounts Links back to your website Detailed compan…

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Smart meter introduction moves into phase 2

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2011 at 11:31 am

Smart meter introduction moves into phase 2

Mass installation of smart meters into every house and business in the UK is planned to start in 2014 and complete in 2019. Between now and then, 'early mover' suppliers such as British Gas will begin installing smart meters as part of a testing and foundation phase of the plan. Smart meters will…

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Will Renewable Heat Premium Payments kick start the domestic market?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 July 2011 at 9:47 am

Will Renewable Heat Premium Payments kick start the domestic market?

The government is putting up £15m for the renewable heat premium payments between September (probably) and October 2012 when the domestic version of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is due to start. In essence they are a grant to help with the capital cost of installation; but will they kick sta…

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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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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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International renewable energy projects to inspire

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 June 2011 at 9:27 am

International renewable energy projects to inspire

Africa is full of entrepreneurs with good ideas - they don't want hand outs - they just want the same access to finance that we have in the west. So said Suraj Wahab Ologburo, the founder and chief executive of Toyola Energy from Ghana, one of the international finalists in this year's Ashden Awards…

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Small companies in danger of being excluded from Green Deal delivery

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 June 2011 at 1:22 pm

Small companies in danger of being excluded from Green Deal delivery

There's concern that the Green Deal will be the preserve of a few big companies, unless its structure is carefully designed to let small companies in. This was one of the issues highlighted at a debate on the Green Deal at yesterday's Ashden Awards conference. Plain speaking was the order of …

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Is Greg Barker looking for other ways to incentivise solar?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 June 2011 at 2:01 pm

Is Greg Barker looking for other ways to incentivise solar?

Greg Barker (minister for climate change) probably thought he was having a nice night off when he agreed to help present a prize at this year's Observer Ethical Awards. But when I saw him heading in my direction I couldn’t resist putting a question or two to him. He must have had a long day justif…

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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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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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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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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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Microgeneration pioneers continue their fight for equal feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 May 2011 at 10:35 am

Microgeneration pioneers continue their fight for equal feed-in tariff

While DECC is said to be discussing compensation of up to £3m for solar entrepreneurs set to lose out from the recently announced fast track review of feed-in tariffs for large scale installations, the early adopters of domestic scale solar and wind power are still struggling to be heard. Repres…

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Community-owned solar power station opens up share offer

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 May 2011 at 9:59 am

Community-owned solar power station opens up share offer

Lewes-based energy services company, Ovesco, has raised three quarters of the £307,000 it needs to build the UK's first community owned solar power station.  So far, virtually all the pledges and investments have come from local people. However, as they are racing to get the panels ordered …

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Energy companies confuse customers over export meters for feed-in tariff

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

Energy companies confuse customers over export meters for feed-in tariff

Most of the energy companies we contacted gave the wrong advice when asked about export meters for the domestic feed-in tariff. Based on comments on previous blogs and questions we receive from readers, we know that some people find the whole issue of exporting electricity confusing. The energy c…

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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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Does the g-save reduce gas bills?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 April 2011 at 11:26 am

Does the g-save reduce gas bills?

I've been testing the g-save economiser since the end of November last year. As described previously, it is a widget that claims to save up to 30% on your gas bill - but does it work? Well, I'm afraid that even after three and a half month's testing the jury is still out. I've got gas meter readi…

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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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