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

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

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

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

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How to choose logs for a wood burning stove

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

How to choose logs for a wood burning stove

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

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Import and export meters and the feed-in tariff

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

Import and export meters and the feed-in tariff

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

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Has the purpose of the feed-in tariff changed?

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

Has the purpose of the feed-in tariff changed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interest-free loans available for renewable energy in Scotland

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

Interest-free loans available for renewable energy in Scotland

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

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New feed-in tariff rates from April 2011

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

New feed-in tariff rates from April 2011

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

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Grants will be available for renewable heat as interim measure

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

Grants will be available for renewable heat as interim measure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Would you consider renewable heat for your home?

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

Would you consider renewable heat for your home?

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

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Renewable heat incentive - consumers beware

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

Renewable heat incentive - consumers beware

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

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New wind turbines at Delabole generate more than twice as much

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

New wind turbines at Delabole generate more than twice as much

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

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

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

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

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

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Feed-in tariff review: an update

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

Feed-in tariff review: an update

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

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

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

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

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

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How much are your solar panels generating?

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

How much are your solar panels generating?

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

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Could energy pricing structures drive energy efficiency?

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

Could energy pricing structures drive energy efficiency?

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

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First review of feed-in tariff announced

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

First review of feed-in tariff announced

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

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

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

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

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

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What to expect from your PV panels throughout the year

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

What to expect from your PV panels throughout the year

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

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How grid-connected home-generated electricity works

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

How grid-connected home-generated electricity works

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

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Early adopters continue to call for equal feed-in tariffs

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

Early adopters continue to call for equal feed-in tariffs

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

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Ways in which Green Deal could be more ambitious

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

Ways in which Green Deal could be more ambitious

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

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

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

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

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

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Access to finance is a major barrier to microgeneration

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

Access to finance is a major barrier to microgeneration

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

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RHI announcements delayed until February

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

RHI announcements delayed until February

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

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