Incentives for solar heating panels

The long-awaited confirmation of a feed-in tariff like the incentive for solar heating panels has been confirmed this week by Greg Barker of the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Solar heating panels are child's play.

Solar heating panels are child’s play.

Using the already existing feed-in tariff for photovoltaic solar panels, introduced by the last Labour government as a template, the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme for solar heating has been long-awaited by the UK solar industry. It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the confirmed tariff payment of 19.2p per kWh for heated solar output over a period of seven years once a system’s installed.

This incentive is available to homes and businesses who install solar heating including evacuated tubes and flat-plate solar panels that produce heat for water tanks, central heating and swimming pools.

This generous rate-of-return for these technologies, give the UK a unique place in the world as this is the first of its type and will be watched closely by the rest of the world for future adoption in similar countries, so in that respect, we are fortunate to have this opportunity.

The incentive scheme was on trial for the last couple of years while the government determine how best to measure the outputs of such technologies and how this would be implemented and rolled out.

Just like its PV solar tariff cousin, the results of your system’s production. This scheme will determine the set and already known results from your installation’s location, orientation and type of technology.

But a word of caution has to be heeded here because the scheme will be degradable to newer adopters as installation numbers rise, don’t dilly dally. The scheme is designed only to give the solar heating industry a ‘leg up’ and the incentive rate will be reduced gradually over time as the technology becomes more popular.

Once the ‘take up’ levels have reached a certain pre-set level, then the rate will go down to newer adopters and eventually be removed altogether once industry conditions are right.

Power only this week disclosed that the government’s predictions of the cost of heating and powering our homes are too optimistic, and people should expect (at least) to be paying over £1,500 per year on energy over the next few years. On this basis, demand for both solar heating and electricity is expected to rise exponentially, so the incentives around today, I suspect will not be around for long as more and more people adopt alternative ways to reduce energy dependence.

Why installing solar panels is child’s play?

The child’s fable of the ‘three little pigs’ can also help us in the 21st-century too.

It’s now 150 years since pig first put a brick to mortar, and the modern-day descendants of that original surviving little pig have enjoyed many years of peace, low-cost energy and low food prices since their ancestors time.

The once-feared wolves have all but disappeared from the landscape through no longer being able to blow their house down, and starvation quickly followed. The limitless building of homes with bricks also destroyed the wolf’s natural habitat and pushed the once vast forests away.

The modern-day pigs love to extend and furnishing their brick homes and take great pride in how the value of their homes continued to rise. The pigs rejoiced when their newspapers landed on their welcome mats pronouncing further price rises in the value of the property.

The little pigs were contented living in their centrally heated homes, sipping their favourite tipple after eating large and hearty meals. Life was good and the worldly threats that once made their ancestors feel vulnerable had all but faded from living memory.

But little did the smart pigs know that their success over the natural order would come at a cost and the early signs of this were their energy, food and general living costs gradually creeping up.

Caught up in a world of ever-decreasing resources as pig populations grow faster and faster and the ability to continue to maintain such high populations sees a very uncertain future for our fairy tale pigs.

The wolf may not be a clear and present danger anymore, but the pigs are now increasing their inability to heat and power their revolutionary brick-built homes cheaply has become a symptom of their ancestor’s technological success.

I believe, that if that first revolutionary piggy was around today, then his brick home could be identified as the one with the solar panels on the roof. Smugly weathering the storms of the long-term energy future as more and more piglets continue to push up the pig population in a world without wolves. Clever little piggy.

"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2013-07-18
Founder of Power My Home.