Feed In Tariff update

Solar PV: where we stand as consumers in all the chaos

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 January 2012 at 9:43 am

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The rate of return on solar panels is currently in a state of flux, since the High Court found that proposed changes to the feed-in tariff were ‘unlawful‘. Now the government is appealing the decision, the uncertainty has been extended.

So what does that mean for someone who wants to buy solar panels?

If you are interested in installing a solar PV system of up to (and including) 4kW this is where you stand:

If you install between now and 31 March you will get at least 21p per kWh you generate from the feed-in tariff. This was confirmed by the Department of Energy and Climate Changed (DECC) in writing to the Solar Trade Association. It said:

“The tariff rate for PV installations less than or equal to 4kW will not fall below 21p for installations with an eligibility date between 12th December 2011 and 31st March 2012”

Depending on the outcome of the government’s appeal, you may find yourself in the bonus situation of getting 43p per kWh. However, it would be unwise to bank on it.

In addition to the generation tariff mentioned above, you will also benefit from:

  • 3.1p per kWh exported. In this size installation, the amount exported will be estimated to be half of the electricity you generate.
  • reduced electricity bills, because you will use your own generated power first. How much this is will depend on the proportion of electricity you use during the day, and whether you time your use of energy hungry appliances to when the panels are generating most.

The situation for larger installations is the same, but the rates are different. Click here for rates:

What rate the feed-in tariff rates will be for people with an eligibility date after 31 March 2012 is still unknown, but it’s certainly not likely to be more than 21p, and may well be less. A consultation document is expected at the end of January, which may shed some light on the matter.

So if you are happy with the rate of return that 21p per kWh gives then now is a good time to install. It’s unlikely to get better, and it’s quite likely to go down again after 31 March 2012. You never know, you might win the 43p jackpot, but don’t rely on it when making your decision.

Photo: Chelmsford Public Library

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.