Although the UK Government maintains that it wants Britain to become green, the latest events surrounding the Feed-in Tariffs have left both the installers and consumers uncertain of the future. In November 2011 it was announced that the Feed-in Tariffs would be cut significantly.
Ever since the announcement, the Government has been in and out of the court. Eventually the Supreme Court has decided that the process by which they were trying to adjust the tariff was illegal. The Government has also lost the appeal. Thus the installations completed by March 3rd will enjoy the higher tariff. There are no good news for those who’ve decided to embrace the renewable energy more recently. The tariff is down, however, you can still enjoy the benefits of green energy AND remember that the cuts were inevitable!
The UK is not the only country in Europe to experience cuts in renewable energy subsidy. Tomorrow significant changes are being instilled upon the Feed-in Tariff scheme in Germany and it is no April fool’s joke. The changes are for real and many companies and individuals are very unhappy. Not only the tariff is being cut, also the proportion of generated green electricity for which the subsidy is being applied, is going to be reduced. Thus smaller installations in Germany (of less than 10 kW) will only be subsidised for 80% of generated electricity.
Both here and in Germany the governments are unanimous – with the volume increasing, the cost of technology is shrinking; and it’s time for the Feed-in Tariff to follow suit. It kind of makes sense, I only hope that next time they decide to cut the tariff, the change will be gradual.
…unless the Government injects confidence back into the renewable energy industry. The UK has committed to 20 gigawatts worth of photovoltaic installations by 2020. Although the Feed-in tariffs were gladly adopted by many Brits, two years on we’ve only got slightly more than 1 gigawatt installed. More than 2 gigawatts per year is necessary from now on in order to be able to reach the target in time. Is this doable?
Local renewable energy companies like Ploughcroft are instrumental in the progress towards the target. For example, Ploughcroft are building their reputation and national presence by ensuring that everything they do is accredited and properly certified. To stay on top of the ever changing and developing technology, they’ve made a choice to train their staff in-house. Their NVQ Training Centre is actually so good that it’s even attended by their competitors.
Unlike Plougcroft Renewables and many other responsible installers around, there are companies that are not fully committed to giving their clients the best possible quality.
The solar panel installers in Germany are faced with a similar problem. Although Germany can easily be called the pioneer of photovoltaic technology, the country is flooded with cheap and low quality photovoltaic panels made in China. Despite the inferior quality, these products out-price the local manufacturers.
With the European renewable energy sector in a slight hiatus, what can we do to make it better? I think these are temporary difficulties. Looking at the global experience, the green energy is bound to take off properly. Installing solar panels, domestic wind generators and investing in other eco-friendly energy sources is still a good thing to do. Even at the cut rate, the Feed-in Tariffs can make you some money. Besides, by concentrating on the question: “how much will I make?” we often forget to ask: “how much will I save?” Having photovoltaic panels on the roof means that you’re close to living off the grid saving hundreds or even thousands of pounds off the energy bills.