Solar PV FAQ’s

feedintariffhouse

What are the current  Financial Incentives?

Now in its final year for new applications The Feed-In Tariff (FiT) is designed to encourage investment in renewable energy. FiTs will be phased out to new applicants as energy prices rise so the scheme favours early adopters who will lock in FiT rates for 20 years from application, as energy prices rise their savings will be ever larger. The FiT scheme is due to expire in 2019 having done its work of stimulating the solar PV supply chain until the costs are low enough to sustain uptake. Customers installing before 2019 will benefit from 20 years of additional payments on top of energy savings and export payments for power sent back to the grid.

Currently a business or household that installs solar PV panels will benefit from the electricity they produce in three distinct ways:

1) The generation tariff.

This is a set rate paid to the owner of the panels for each unit of electricity that the solar panels generate, measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh. In the case of solar PV this is currently paid at 3.93 pence per kWh (for systems up to 10kWp) and 4.15 pence above 10kWp. The owner of the PV panels will receive the generation tariff via their electricity company or an independent FiTs provider (such as Good Energy), whether they use the electricity themselves or not.

2) Lower electricity bills.

Some, but not all, of the installed location’s electricity demand will be met by the solar panels! How much they save depends on how much electricity they use during the day when there is sunlight and the solar panels are generating. To make the most of this free electricity, think of it as the opposite of the old Economy 7 tariffs. The more electricity used during daylight hours, the lower the energy bills will be. We have some great products that help you organise your energy usage to take the greatest advantage of the free energy periods as well as battery storage systems to substantially increase your self-consumption, please contact us to find out more.

3) An export tariff.

Any electricity the PV system generates but doesn’t use is sold to the grid for a fixed rate of 5.03 pence per kWh. At present commercial PV installations over 30kWp require the export to be metered and domestic installations do not need an export meter. Instead, the FiTs provider will assume you are exporting exactly 50% of the total you generate, and pay you accordingly for this.

For further info on Feed-In Tariffs please visit The Energy Saving Trust.

With these 3 income mechanisms, energy bill prices set to continue to rise and daily reminders in the news of the runaway costs of non-renewable energy generation, there has never been a better time to back sustainable, clean and practical alternatives such as solar.

 

How do I register for the tariffs once a system is installed?

We provide you with the documentation required and assist where needed with forms to the FiT provider, the application must be sent in by the system owner but we make sure the process is straight forward for you. Once your system is installed we will help you complete all of the application paperwork to submit to your chosen Feed-In Tariff provider as part of the handover service.

To qualify for the Feed-in-Tariff your system must be installed by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approved installer (such as ourselves) and your building must also have an valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)* with at least a “D” rating. Most buildings do meet the “D” rating, if yours does not initially we help you get there with practical advice.

*We will provide your EPC for free when you install with us.

 

Does the system need maintenance?

Panels and mounting system:

PV systems should not need any maintenance under normal circumstances, all the products we install are tried and tested and come with MCS certification for installation in the UK. The panels typically come with a 25 yr performance guarantee and will last even longer if installed correctly. All of our work comes with a 10 yr workmanship warranty which is insurance backed and we only use stainless steel and high grade aluminium for the mounting systems which will outlast most roofs.

Inverter:

One component that can be expected to be replaced during the lifespan of the system is the inverter that changes the DC power from the panels to AC power matched to the incoming grid voltage and phases, this will result in no power being generated until resolved but represents no other issues. Thanks to the monitoring solutions built in to all our inverters this can be diagnosed remotely in most cases and quickly resolved.

Cleaning:

In rare circumstances panels can be cleaned if they show signs of dirt build up but they are designed to self clean under normal weather cycles and have a coating to ensure this, cleaning is not advised on most systems but if you do then warm soapy water and a non abrasive sponge is best.

 

Do I need a new EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)?

Since the 1st April 2012 all domestic properties have required an EPC rating of D or above to qualify for the highest Feed in Tariff (FIT) rate, if you already have one this can be used, if not we can arrange for one to be carried out.

If you are considering solar on a commercial premises, the non-domestic EPC register is available here: ndepcregister.com.

To check whether a home currently holds an EPC you can visit the national EPC register online: epcregister.com.

It is rare for domestic properties to have an EPC below the “D” rating required for the Feed in Tariff. As of the 15th January 2016, the “D” rating must be obtained before the renewable plant is commissioned, in order to be eligible for the higher FIT rate. This requirement has been introduced to encourage the uptake of energy efficiency measures in domestic properties. Previously the PV system itself could contribute towards the EPC rating. If you don’t have an EPC or are very concerned that your house will not make the grade, you can test the water by having a preliminary assessment carried out. This draft EPC will tell you your prospective rating and the assessor may even be able to suggest some very cheap (and worthwhile) smaller measures you should do to increase your rating further. After the installation of the appropriate measures, evidence will need to be provided to the assessor and the EPC can be formally lodged on the database ready for your Feed-In Tariff application. Sunlight Future have a database of assessors throughout the south west who we have used before and whose service we can recommend.

For domestic customers who don’t currently have a EPC rated D or above, we will (re)fund the assessment and certification when you book with your installation with us.

Overall we see the EPC requirement as a positive step to improving the energy efficiency of some of the UK’s older houses.

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