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View blog posts for category: General

Prices of solar PV and other renewable energy vary significantly: always get three quotes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 April 2012 at 9:32 am

Prices of solar PV and other renewable energy vary significantly: always get three quotes

Getting three quotes was dinned into me in my first job. It was more than good practice - it was compulsory. Even though I was generally getting quotes from among the same pool of printers, I couldn't necessarily tell which would come in best on a particular job. It made sense, so it's something …

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Trust individuals and take more imaginative approach to consumer protection

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 30 March 2012 at 9:50 am

Trust individuals and take more imaginative approach to consumer protection

When markets have large numbers of small businesses, all innovating and desperate to compete and survive, consumer protection becomes much harder. DECC (the department of energy and climate change) can monitor and fine the big six utilities relatively easily, but it’s much harder to control a mark…

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Find the best renewable energy installers: 11 points to check before you invest

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2012 at 1:03 am

Find the best renewable energy installers: 11 points to check before you invest

1.    If you want to benefit from the feed-in tariff or the renewable heat incentive (the Government’s financial incentives for renewable energy), you must ensure that both the installer you use, and the product they are installing are accredited under the Microgeneration Certificat…

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Campaign to root out cowboy solar installers launched today

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2012 at 1:03 am

Campaign to root out cowboy solar installers launched today

A campaign is launched today to help people to avoid “unscrupulous” installers of solar panels and other renewable technologies seeking to cash in on confusion surrounding the Government’s feed-in-tariff and other incentives. We have developed the campaign as a result of stories we've heard…

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Got a feed-in tariff complaint? You may need this guide!

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 February 2012 at 7:53 am

Got a feed-in tariff complaint? You may need this guide!

I know from the number of questions we get about it, that working out who's responsible for what in the feed-in tariff isn't always easy. DECC (the department for energy and climate change) obviously realises it too. As part of it's latest consultation it's asking for feedback on …

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Feed-in tariff: your questions answered - updated

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 February 2012 at 11:12 am

Feed-in tariff: your questions answered - updated

The introduction of the feed-in tariff ushered in a new and exciting era for microgeneration, but it can be confusing. Here we answer some of the most common questions about the scheme. If you've got any more, please ask them in the comment section below and we'll do our best to answer. T…

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Time to stand up for renewables

Posted by Merlin Hyman on 16 February 2012 at 9:14 am

Time to stand up for renewables

The recent anti-wind letter from MPs and some of the coverage of the rapid cuts in the feed-in tariff are evidence of an unholy alliance of right wing tories and the elements of the press targeting renewable energy. Blaming energy bill price rises on renewable energy subsidies also provides a us…

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Coping with the feed-in tariff cuts

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 February 2012 at 7:54 am

Coping with the feed-in tariff cuts

The feed-in tariff rates (FiT) rates for solar installations have been cut by half. Since the announcement last year, many working in industry have prophesised that DECC has killed the industry dead. But has it? The ongoing saga and debate surrounding these changes shows just how it important …

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Get the best out of your renewable energy system: make sure your installer tells you how

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 January 2012 at 9:18 am

Get the best out of your renewable energy system: make sure your installer tells you how

Renewable energy installers are failing to help consumers understand the value of their system or how to get the best out of it (and thus maximise the return on their investment). Research by Consumer Focus and the Energy Saving Trust found that while value for money is more of an influence on ch…

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How the non-domestic RHI (renewable heat incentive) works: your questions answered

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 December 2011 at 3:58 pm

How the non-domestic RHI (renewable heat incentive) works: your questions answered

Can anyone in the UK benefit? No – just non-domestic installations in England, Scotland and Wales. A domestic version is expected to start in October 2012. Installations completed and commissioned on or after 15 July 2009 can apply as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. Those installed pr…

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£30m of new funding for energy efficiency in communities and public sector

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 December 2011 at 9:13 am

£30m of new funding for energy efficiency in communities and public sector

The good news: there's £10m worth of funding for local communities to use to assess the potential for energy efficiency and local renewable energy generation. The bad news is that the deadlines for applications are tight, and the work must be finished by the end of March 2012. There is also £20…

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'World's first RHI' launch over-shadowed by FITs debacle

Posted by Stewart Boyle on 7 December 2011 at 10:08 am

'World's first RHI' launch over-shadowed by FITs debacle

The long-awaited Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) officially ‘opened for business’ on 28th November. With £864 million available for the cashback scheme to support biomass boilers, solar water heating systems, heat pumps and bio-methane projects, it should have been a day of great celebration…

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Just another day in the Commons - where we merrily destroy the PV sector with spin

Posted by Howard Johns on 29 November 2011 at 9:31 am

Just another day in the Commons -  where we merrily destroy the PV sector with spin

Anyone working in the solar industry will have been appalled,  dismayed and almost certainly angered to watch the debate on their future and the feed in tariff that took place in the House of Commons. I was sat in the viewing gallery watching and despite the best efforts of Caroline Flint and m…

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Renewable Heat Incentive for non-domestic generators is open for applications

Posted by Gilly Jones on 28 November 2011 at 5:51 pm

Renewable Heat Incentive for non-domestic generators is open for applications

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Phase 1 for non-domestic generator is opened for applications. Heat is the biggest use of energy in the UK. Just under half of the UK's CO2 emissions are used on heating space and water. Heat in the UK is currently supplied predominantly by fossil fuels - with les…

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Homebuyer & sellers' guide to reading an EPC: part 2

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 25 November 2011 at 10:30 am

Homebuyer & sellers' guide to reading an EPC: part 2

Energy performance certificate (EPC) gives information that can be very helpful to both homebuyers and homesellers, but only if you know what to do with it. This article should be read in conjunction with previous guides to reading page one of the EPC for the buyers and renters, and for sellers. I w…

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What happens to the feed-in tariff when you sell your house

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 November 2011 at 4:53 am

What happens to the feed-in tariff when you sell your house

See more recent article: I'm selling my house with solar panels - how do I get the most value? Can I continue to receive the feed-in tariff payments on a solar PV or wind turbine installation after I've sold the house, is a question I'm being asked more often. My understandi…

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Future of feed-in tariff leaks out early

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 October 2011 at 9:57 am

The consultation on the review of the feed-in tariff for solar PV is due to be announced in parliament on Monday 31 October. However, the significant element for the domestic market has leaked out early: the new rate to be consulted on is 21p per kWh (compared to a current rate of 43.3p). This will …

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Future of feed-in tariff to be announced next week

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 October 2011 at 6:10 am

Future of feed-in tariff to be announced next week

"I haven't come here to kill the [feed-in] tariff scheme, I want to fix it, enhance it and put the whole industry on a sustainable, credible economic path to a bright and exciting future," said energy and climate change minister Greg Barker yesterday, speaking at the Solar Power UK conference in Bir…

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Solar PV tiles: the pros and cons explained

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 14 October 2011 at 9:06 am

Solar PV tiles: the pros and cons explained

Q: We are currently in the planning process to build our own house and have lots of questions regarding the use of solar roof tiles. 1. Do you generate as much electricity with these roof tiles with the equivalent amount of panel space ? 2. I have noticed you can have panels that heat water an…

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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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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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How the REAL code aims to protect consumers from pressure sales

Posted by John Martin on 12 September 2011 at 9:03 am

How the REAL code aims to protect consumers from pressure sales

As previously explained the REAL consumer code requires clear information to be provided in a consistent manner, it also places other constraints and conditions on businesses regarding their conduct such as: The member (company) is responsible for the conduct and behaviour of its representatives…

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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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Strict enforcement of G83/1 restricts installation of 4kWp solar PV

Posted by Chris Rudge on 30 August 2011 at 9:54 am

Strict enforcement of G83/1 restricts installation of 4kWp solar PV

Many installers may have already encountered the newly enforced grid connected inverter G83/1 requirements recently. In simple terms, all the District Network Operators (DNO's) have finally got together and are now insisting that all installations should completely comply with G83/1 requireme…

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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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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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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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Why bother optimise voltage?

Posted by Matt Cody on 13 July 2011 at 9:12 am

Why bother optimise voltage?

This is an often-asked question. The simple answer is that it prevents energy waste that virtually all homes in the UK suffer as a result of electricity typically being provided at the higher end of the statutory range - and therefore saves energy, reduces carbon emissions and saves money. …

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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

See recent article: Mis-selling of solar PV equipment - how to spot the signs 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 …

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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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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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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 ch…

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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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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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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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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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Buildings don't use energy: people do

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

Buildings don't use energy: people do

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

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

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

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

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

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Servicing your solar water heating panels

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

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

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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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