About Solar PV
What is Solar Power and the "Feed-in Tariff"?
Alternative energy generation that saves and pays
Photo courtesy Bull Holding AG
Most people are familiar with the concept of generating electricity through solar panels. However until recently, mass commercial exploitation of the technology hadn't really been possible in terms of producing it at scale with adequate power. For domestic and commercial users, solar installations took a long time to pay back the investment made in them. Payback was equally only offered in terms of savings from their own consumption rather than cash-back for anything returned to the grid. Old panels also didn't function well without sunlight (e.g. on a cloudy day) which is no longer the case with modern panels.
All that has now changed with recent improvements in solar panel technology and the government "Feed-in tariff" incentives launched in April 2010.
Recent improvements in Solar panel technology
Graphic Courtesy of The Energy Saving Trust
Photovoltaic (or "PV") technology is the technology to generate electricity from light (the literal meaning of "Photovoltaic"). Whilst PV has existed since the space programme in the 1950s, the technology until recently has not been commercially exploitable relative to the price of buying electricity from the grid.
Photovoltaic panels are a "sandwich" of positive and negtive semi-conductor material which when stimulated by light, causes a flow of electrons around an internally sealed cell. When grouped in series, the voltage of two cells doubles, while the current remains constant. When grouped in parallel, the current doubles, while the voltage stays constant. Consequently any combination of voltage and current can be achieved according to the way in which panels are grouped into an array.
The current produced is also initially direct current, which when passed through an appropriate "inverter" unit, becomes Alternating Current (AC).
Solar photovoltaics are now the fastest power-generating technology in the world, increasing 60% per annum between 2004 and 2009. This increase has been driven by technological advances plus the ability to manufacture at scale and pace, meaning the cost of panels has dropped considerably. The enabling technology has been met equally by financial incentives for solar electricity in the form of the feed-in tariff.
The panels we use from Bull Holding Ag represent state of the art advances in PV technology representing recent improvements in solar-cell chemistryand manufacturing efficiencies which have led to increases in power and decreased cost. These panels even maintain a level of operating effectiveness after the sun has set. Available, direct sunlight was a previous operating necessity. It is significant to our offering to the UK market that we offer German technology: Germany installed a record 3,800 Mega Watts of PV in 2009 versus the United States 500 MW. They are absolutely the world leaders in this technology and this consequently underwrites the quality and reliabilty and experience we can now bring to the UK market.
The Feed-in Tariff: "Clean Energy Cashback"
The solar feed-in tariff or FIT was introduced in April 2010 as an incentive to commercial, public and domestic investors to produce renewable energy and whilst the Solar Tariff has now been drastically reduced under the present Conservative government, it still exists and still pays more than the euivalent purchase price of a unit of electricity on the open market.
How it works
To qualify for the tariff you must have your installation certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). (Our instalers are MCS qualified). If you are eligible for the FIT, then you can benefit in 3 ways: