My Response to the Latest Renewable Heat Incentive Consultation

The United Kingdom’s Department of Energy & Climate Change has been pussy-footing around with the Renewable Heat Incentive. there is another short consultation which closes on 23rd April 2012. You can get the web link to the consultation at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/Renewable_ener/incentive/incentive.aspx

I have replied to the consultation on behalf of Genersys Plc. I set out my response below:- Continue reading

Why investing in income streams from PV arrays is not such a good deal

I promised to explain today why I believe the income stream from PV panels over 25 years will not prove as good an investment as some people are led to believe. Certainly the income stream is guaranteed by the government; certainly all legal measures have been taken to ensure that the installation of PV panels will qualify for the feed in tariff; certainly the PV panels will generate electricity and certainly the electricity they generate will be properly metered and fed into the grid. However, they are not a suitable investment for securitisation in my view.

First, we have to consider the amount of electricity that will be generated. At the 25 year fixed feed in tariff of 43p per kWh (the top tariff shortly to be replaced by a tariff of half that amount) an average south facing roof covered with PV will produce an income from the government of around £1500. In the first year, that is.

Thereafter, the panels will degrade, like everything else degrades. PV installations have not been monitored for 25 years so the precise degradation in performance has not been measured properly. Best estimates are that the panels in themselves will produce 1% less electricity, on a compounded basis, year on year. That means that in ten years time the panels will produce maybe an income of £1000, rather than £1500.

Secondly, as climate change kicks in so it is likely that our summers will get hotter and hotter. That is a good thing if you like hot weather, but not a good thing for PV producing electricity. PV produces the best output at lowish temperatures. If you sit by a feed in meter and watch the production of electricity on a very hot day in July in bright sunshine you will see that electricity production is much less than in bright milder weather.

Thirdly, I expect some installations will break down from time to time. PV systems need an inverter because PV produces DC electricity which has to be inverted to AC before it can be fed in to the grid. Inverters break down and wear out and need to be replaced and there will be times over the life of a PV system when the PV array is not working because the inverter needs to be replaced.

Finally, I expect accidents will happen to PV systems, especially if the house owner is trying to sell his house and finds that the PV system is making that process hard.

The problem is not with PV, or indeed not even with the undesirably high feed in tariff. The problem is that instead of becoming a genuine micro energy investment for a home owner, PV has become a spiv type business, where unsuspecting people of good intentions are being persuaded to grant leases of their homes’ roofs for 25 years in order to profit a hard selling organisation that cares not for the environment but for their own profit.

The Incompetence of Governments

I have been running a thermal solar energy business in the United Kingdom (Genersys) for more than ten years. This deals in solar water heating panels and is a renewable energy technology, which provides almost emission free  energy. During that time I have been astonished by the incompetence of government when it comes to energy matters. Fossil fuel, or renewable, governments and civil servants do not understand what they are doing and seem incapable of making the very simple and basic decisions which would require common sense and intelligence. Continue reading

Feed In Tariff Subsidies

The court has ruled against the government on the solar subsidies for feed in tariffs under the scheme for electric production by photovoltaic panels. Under the ruling the photovoltaic industry has a respite, rather than a reprieve. The ridiculously high subsidy of 43 p per kWh will now remain in place until March, and if you have your PV system installed after the end of March I think you will “only” get 23p per kWh as a subsidy. Continue reading

Time to Put on your Thinking Cap, Mr Barker

Greg Barker, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Energy has been vigorously defending his government’s decision to cut the subsidy on photovoltaic solar panels which produce electricity. He point out that indexed linked at 43p per kWh for twenty five years the feed in tariff was too good to be true, although actually it was true and it is about time that the government curtailed the excesses of the electricity feed in tariff for an energy source which cannot be stored and which is produced when we do not need electricity, in daylight hours. Continue reading

My Voice is Too Small

Political connections and a strong lobby group can do things that a good cause and holding the right moral position cannot. When governments make decisions they succumb to the influence of the powerful. Continue reading

The Reduction in the Feed In Tariff for Household Renewable Electricity

It is good to see that governments incentivise renewable energy, particularly microgeneration. Whatever your views on anthropogenic climate change clean renewable energy is healthier and gives a better degree of energy security for nations, businesses and individuals and enables our fossil fuels, which are finite and are being gobbled up with increasing appetite by a world in which the human population is rapidly expanded. Continue reading