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View blog posts for category: Solar electricity

Inverters for solar PV panels: your questions answered

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

Inverters for solar PV panels: your questions answered

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

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What types of solar PV panels are there?

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

What types of solar PV panels are there?

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

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Feed-in tariffs boost growth of UK solar panels

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

Feed-in tariffs boost growth of UK solar panels

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

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

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

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

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

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Solar panels are now an investment opportunity

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

Solar panels are now an investment opportunity

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

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Early adopters and the feed-in tariff: an update

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

Early adopters and the feed-in tariff: an update

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

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

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

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

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

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Feed-in tariffs: how to claim them

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

Feed-in tariffs: how to claim them

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

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Ashden Award winner an inspiration for community energy schemes

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

Ashden Award winner an inspiration for community energy schemes

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

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Eco-renovation transforms Devon village hall

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

Eco-renovation transforms Devon village hall

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

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10 tips for choosing a good solar PV installer

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

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

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Solar PV installations are held up by a shortage of inverters

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

Solar PV installations are held up by a shortage of inverters

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

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MCS explained, plus quick guide for wannabe installers

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

MCS explained, plus quick guide for wannabe installers

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

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How to read IV charts for PV solar panels

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

How to read IV charts for PV solar panels

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

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EDM adds weight to campaign for equal rates for microgeneration pioneers

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

EDM adds weight to campaign for equal rates for microgeneration pioneers

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

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Generating my own electricity

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

Generating my own electricity

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

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Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

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

Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

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

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Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

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

Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

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

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Conservatives support fair treatment for all microgenerators

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

Conservatives support fair treatment for all microgenerators

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

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What's the best mounting for solar panels?

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

What's the best mounting for solar panels?

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

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Feed-in tariff scheme is shortsighted

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

Feed-in tariff scheme is shortsighted

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

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Feed-in tariff: your questions answered

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

Feed-in tariff: your questions answered

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

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Feed-in tariff explained in video

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

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

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Feed-in tariff rates: the headline figures

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 February 2010 at 12:57 pm

Feed-in tariff rates: the headline figures

At last the uncertainty is over - we now know what the rates are for the Clean Energy Cashback (feed-in tariff) which starts on 1 April 2010. Its purpose is to encourage installations of wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels, micro hydro and microCHP schemes of up to 5MW capacity to produce low …

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Public wants ambitious support for microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 January 2010 at 9:32 am

Public wants ambitious support for microgeneration

Renewable energy in homes, communities and businesses got a public vote of confidence this week, but needs ambitious goals and support from government to succeed. A new survey found that people are prepared to pay higher energy bills to support a stronger feed-in tariff. Two thirds of the pop…

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Does renewable energy affect your house insurance?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 January 2010 at 10:20 am

Does renewable energy affect your house insurance?

We've had solar hot water panels for a couple of years now, but it was only recently, when asked by a visitor to this site, that I wondered what, if any implication they had for my house insurance. Happily, a quick call to the insurance company (NFU Mutual) was all I needed to find that it makes …

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Is my roof too shaded for solar PV panels?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 14 January 2010 at 7:10 am

Is my roof too shaded for solar PV panels?

If you are thinking of having a solar electricity  system installed in 2010 to take advantage of the last chances of getting a lump sum grant before the Feed In Tariff starts in April, the first thing to do is look for a good location to install it. Traditionally for domestic Solar PV (photo…

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How to deal with snow on solar PV modules

Posted by Chris Rudge on 7 January 2010 at 11:36 am

How to deal with snow on solar PV modules

This past weeks little deluge of snow may have provided a nice seasonal blanket of white over your solar PV modules. While the glass in most modules has self cleaning properties, the adhesion of snow means it will cover the modules until the temperature rises. In the case of a ground mounted system,…

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Back UK jobs, innovation and manufacturing through renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 December 2009 at 10:25 am

Back UK jobs, innovation and manufacturing through renewable energy

With the announcement of the final feed-in tariff rates postponed until (probably mid) January, a frenzy of lobbying has erupted for a more ambitious settlement that will deliver more renewable energy, and more British jobs in manufacturing and installing. If you want to join in, here are some sugge…

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Solar PV industry uncertainty as grants pot runs out

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 December 2009 at 9:23 am

Solar PV industry uncertainty as grants pot runs out

The solar industry faces another phase of uncertainty as the grants money to support installation of photovoltaic panels in public sector buildings and charities has run out again. The Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 2 grant pot was topped up with £35m earlier this year, of which £13m was …

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Prices vary hugely between renewable energy installers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 November 2009 at 11:17 am

Prices vary hugely between renewable energy installers

Prices for renewable energy installations vary wildly, making buying decisions difficult for homeowners, according to Power from the People, a new study by researchers at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. In addition, there is little correlation between price and the gener…

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Feed-in rate announcement may be delayed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 November 2009 at 4:07 pm

Feed-in rate announcement may be delayed

The much awaited results of the consultation on feed-in tariffs may take a little longer than hoped. Internal wrangling between government departments is to blame according to the Guardian, and it's not clear when we're going to find out. Ed Milliband had apparently hoped to have the policy i…

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YouGen Energy Expert wins installer of the year

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2009 at 9:13 am

YouGen Energy Expert wins installer of the year

Congratulations to everyone at SunGift Solar which has won Installer of the Year in RegenSW's Green Energy Awards. Company founder Gabriel Wandrausch is one of YouGen's volunteer Energy Experts, contributing articles on solar hot water to the YouGen blog. SunGift Solar, which started as a solar t…

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Green party promises best finance scheme for microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 November 2009 at 11:59 am

Green party promises best finance scheme for microgeneration

Proper insulation for every home and interest-free loans for domestic renewable energy are just some of the policies promised by the Green party if they win the next election. While it would be expensive, says Paula Black, Totnes councillor, and prospective Green Party parliamentary candidate for Ex…

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Solar panels fall in price

Posted by Chris Rudge on 11 November 2009 at 10:30 am

Solar panels fall in price

There is both good news and bad news in the solar PV (photovoltaic) installation world. Over the last few months, the cost of solar electricity modules has fallen by anything up to 10%. This is due to an early year slump in demand throughout Europe in caused by the credit crisis. There had also b…

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Learn how to generate your own electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 October 2009 at 2:19 pm

Learn how to generate your own electricity

Wind farms - you either love them or you loathe them. I'm on the side of love. Ever since the first time I drove down the A395 in Cornwall, and they loomed, eerie and magnificent in the bleak dusk, I've been a wind turbine fan. So I'm excited to hear about Good Energy's Power from the People day …

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Equal feed-in tariff for existing generation has heavyweight support

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 September 2009 at 10:10 am

Equal feed-in tariff for existing generation has heavyweight support

Support for equal feed-in rates for those who already have small solar PV, wind turbines or hydro came from diverse parts of the renewable energy sector at yesterday's RegenSW conference in Bristol. Sponsor Christine Griffiths of Aeolus Power got her passionate call in early in the day - to be me…

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Island grid increases energy security aspect of microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 September 2009 at 10:04 am

Island grid increases energy security aspect of microgeneration

Security of electricity supply is one of the main reasons that people install their own solar panels or wind turbine. However, a system that is connected to the national grid currently doesn't afford total control. The benefit of grid connection is that you can sell any excess you generate to the…

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Solar PV: how to tell the difference between panel types

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 September 2009 at 9:50 am

Solar PV: how to tell the difference between panel types

Solar PV (photovoltaic) panels come in lots of different types - mostly with long and complicated names - so it's not easy to know what the difference is. Last night I went to an excellent evening organised by the Sid Valley Energy Action Group - a group of enthusiastic volunteers who promote ene…

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Existing generators angry at feed-in cuts to income

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 September 2009 at 8:32 am

Existing generators angry at feed-in cuts to income

Feed-in tariffs are designed to incentivise people to invest in renewable sources of energy generation. Yet, the government's proposals will give much lower rates to existing microgenerators, leading to a cut in income for many. This seems a perverse move from government. The numbers of micro wi…

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Feed-in tariffs are not fair to renewable energy pioneers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 August 2009 at 9:17 am

Feed-in tariffs are not fair to renewable energy pioneers

Renewable energy pioneers have been dealt a dismal hand by DECC's proposed rates for the feed-in tariff. Existing microgenerators (whose installation has been accredited under the Renewable Obligation) will be automatically transferred to the feed-in tariff on a rate of 9p per kWh (kilowatt hours)…

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Welsh ease planning rules for renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 August 2009 at 9:40 am

Welsh ease planning rules for renewable energy

Welsh planning rules for domestic renewable energy installations have been changed to make it easier for homeowners to generate their own heat and electricity. Following Scotland's lead, the Welsh Assembly has announced new regulations which mean that some microgeneration technologies will no lon…

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Solar panels have never been so attractive

Posted by Chris Rudge on 10 August 2009 at 10:50 am

Solar panels have never been so attractive

With the feed-in tariff due to start in April 2010 (after a short consultation period to October) the benefits of installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on our houses before the end of the 2009 are probably better than we will ever have again. Simply put, if you have a PV installation befor…

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Will feed in tariffs change the market?

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 7 August 2009 at 9:03 am

Will feed in tariffs change the market?

The announcement by the Government last month of proposed feed-in tariffs (FiTs) for renewables from next April marks a fundamental change in the way small scale renewables are incentivised in the UK, and is long overdue. There is no question that feed-in tariffs are the right mechanism to use. …

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Siting your PV panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 August 2009 at 3:58 pm

Siting your PV panels

When buying photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity for their home, most people put them on the roof. However, this isn't the only place, and may not be the one that gives the best results. Below is John Smith's story about his decision to site his solar panels in the corner of a field…

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Old homes can be energy efficient: visit a superhome and be inspired

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 July 2009 at 9:08 am

Old homes can be energy efficient: visit a superhome and be inspired

Old homes tend to be the worst offenders when it comes to leaking hot air out into the atmosphere. This means higher than average energy bills, and correspondingly high carbon emissions. Often labelled 'hard to treat', older homes can be more complicated when it comes to installing energy eff…

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What the renewable energy strategy and low carbon transition plan mean for your home

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 July 2009 at 3:01 pm

What the renewable energy strategy and low carbon transition plan mean for your home

Households are expected to make cuts in their carbon emissions of 29% by 2020 according to the Government's Low Carbon Transition Plan, announced by Ed Miliband last week (houses currently emit more than a third of the UK's carbon). This will be done through a combination of cutting the amount o…

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Sustainable energy solutions recognised by Ashden Awards

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 June 2009 at 2:42 pm

Sustainable energy solutions recognised by Ashden Awards

Inspirational people combined with sustainable energy technologies makes me feel hopeful for the future, and at the Ashden Awards ceremony last night both abounded. The winners spoke humbly about their achievements, yet many of them are significantly transforming people's lives. For example the …

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Wind power without the guesswork

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 June 2009 at 11:01 am

Wind power without the guesswork

Measuring wind power to see whether it makes sense to get a wind turbine has, until now, been either expensive or inaccurate. Now with the launch of the Power Predictor, it’s possible to take the risk out of what is a significant investment. The device is the invention of Toby Hammond, managing…

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Solar photo competition

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 June 2009 at 10:09 am

Solar photo competition

We Support Solar is running a photography competition to celebrate daylight in the UK. The campaign group is a network of organisations (including YouGen) and individuals who want solar power to be an important part of the renewable energy mix in the UK. To enter the competition you need to take…

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