LAST year didn’t end well for the renewable energy sector in Northern Ireland. The proposed early end for onshore wind subsidies remains mired in uncertainty; NIE announced a substantial delay in delivering grid connections; and the Paris Climate Agreement amounted to little more than some very vague promises.
It is so difficult to express the disappointment in the outcome of the Paris talks in a few sentences. After all the self-congratulation of the Paris Agreement adoption on December 11, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was a turning point for UK climate change policy and perhaps an end to the accelerating subsidy cuts by the Tory government.
The Ulster Farmers Union has welcomed confirmation by the DETI minister, Jonathan Bell, that he will consult separately on the NIRO (Northern Ireland Renewable Obligation) closure for small scale wind turbines. The UFU is now pressing for swift action by DETI on revised and improved proposals.
The UFU has been concerned that smaller projects, often awaiting grid connection confirmation, lost out when DETI proposed closing support for onshore wind. Along with Simple Power it has sought a judicial review of the consultation process that extended this to smaller land-based schemes.
“We are pleased DETI is reconsidering its process and consultation. We are however disappointed it has taken until now, a few weeks before the dissolution of the Assembly, to act – although we understand DETI hopes to issue the consultation before the end of March,” said UFU deputy president, Barclay Bell. He said it was clear the cut-off date for qualifying projects of 30 September 2015 is not movable, since this was set by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in London.
Latest News NIRO
Following the consultation on the proposed closure of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) to new small scale onshore wind, the NIRO has now closed to onshore wind operators with a capacity of 5MW and under in Northern Ireland.
Further guidance regarding this closure will be issued shortly, until this time you can find some FAQs regarding the closure here.
Please note, operators of stations that meet certain criteria may be eligible for a grace period, meaning that they may be eligible to apply for accreditation up to 31 December 2018, depending on the grace period conditions they can meet. Please review FAQs for further information on this.
We need to face up to the fact that corners are being cut in the solar industry due to poor quality control
Definition of quality – what does it really mean –clearly different things to different people would seem to be the answer –
The solar industry fell at the false altar of cheap price and will make their customers pay dearly.
Definition: In manufacturing, a measure of excellence or a state of being free from defects, deficiencies or in other areas a distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something is what a dictionary might tell you.
If we consider the following famous quotes –
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
The Quality Rule’ according to the New York Times Solar quality poses a long-term threat and frankly it is all down to economics. When I challenged people at the Solar Trade Association, BPVA and even DECC a cheap price does not equate to cheap quality and we need this to make the solar industry work.
Some might say this means our security as well safety are put in jeopardy due to the mishandling of Feed in Tariff by allowing sub-standard Solar PV to come to our shores and in the main most of the concerns over quality centre around China, as we allowed China to force the EU producers to close and now China is home to the majority of the world’s solar panel factories.
MYTH: Products made and sold below cost price does not mean poor quality of Solar PV is being produced
FACT: 1 panel in 4 is defective
The tests are facts that dispel myths, testing by STS-Certified, a leading provider of quality assurance services, mass-production scale testing and inspection solutions.
With a 3,000m² PV module testing facility strategically located in China, this is the largest testing lab for PV in the world.
We need to know our solar will perform properly in the longer term
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF PV MODULE QUALITY IN MASS PRODUCTION
Defective panels rate: 25,2%
Average quantity of defects per panel: 0.316
MYTH: The quality of Solar PV from China is getting better
FACT: Defect rates have been steadily increasing year-over-year. While in 2011 one PV module out of 13 was defective, in 2013 one PV module out of 4 is defective.
The defect rate has increased by 72% in 2012, and by 88% in 2013
Growth indicates that solar panels are increasingly defective, that improvements in production are not being made, and quality as a whole is being neglected.
Historical evolution of defective panels
More than 25% of the products tested between January and September 2013 were found defective by STS. Some products showed multiple types of defects, and statistics demonstrate that a product will have in average 0.316 defects
Examinations suggest micro-cracks are by far the largest cause of defects seen in PV modules. Micro-cracks are breakages in solar cells observed by electro-luminescence and there is always a potential risk that a micro–crack progresses to a cell failure a.failure can now also overheat itself and lead to a fire in the junction box. It could cost lives if the bypass diodes cannot do what they ought to do!
Some experts say that when one combines microcracks with normal solar power levels and traditional maximum power point tracking (MPPT), catastrophic breakdowns can result. Localized hot spots can burn through silicon at over 2,577°F
Solar modules are supposed to be designed to produce electrical power at least for 20 years, if one if four are not worthy of installation on day one, it poses another huge question and that is how will they deliver safe power for the warranty period of two or more decades.
Who would be about to pick up the pieces if these companies go into bankruptcy?
Solar producers in China are under pressure to cut costs and are said to be substituting less costly untested components and subcontracting to smaller manufacturers whose operations are devoid of any quality control.
Does this look like it will get better?
No way! The UK/EU Anti Dumping agreement comes to an end so I would expect we will seed a new price war waged by manufacturers in China.
Installers or distributors who peddle such products might be seen to be on a suicide mission or could it be murder.
Now these producers are actually going bankrupt, including the one they said was too big to fail, Wuxi Suntech, when the banks pulled out two years ago.
MYTH: These huge solar producers are to big to fail and the government in China will always bail them out
FACT: After incurring billions of dollars in debt to accelerate production that has sent solar panel prices plunging since 2009, Chinese solar companies are under extreme pressure to cut costs.2013:
MYTH: The big Solar PV factories in China make better quality products than the smaller producers
FACT: While many consider that large factories produce better quality, STS results do not reflect this statement. STS has recorded both high and low defect rates at all Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 manufacturers.
If the materials aren’t of merchantble quality to due to not being thoroughly tested, they will not last the waaranty and the solar module will eventually fall apart in the field.
This solar mismanagement needs to be seen as more than corporate choice and possibly could result as attempted corporate manslaughter to bring the individuals themselves as named people into the action that will inevitably kick off soon.
Defective Chinese panels wouldn’t be a big issue if there were plentiful EU produced alternatives.
Laughable as it would be if it was not so tragic, the Solar Trade Association as well as BPVA is largely funded by Far East producers and in times of crisis these associations have been accused of saving their own jobs at the cost of an entire UK & EU solar industry.
Unfortunately, thanks to our unfair trading relationship with China solar companies, British producers haven’t been able to stay in business. China has heavily sold at below costs of production dumped products in the EU and frankly some seem to have flouted laws imposed to halt sale at below market rates
We will carry on as we have to get EU PV back in business
As we wind down in the spot between Christmas & New year, it allows time to look back and forward as we enjoy our well earned rest we can cast our mind back a year to the last and even a little before that
“Renewables are now the fastest growing energy source on the planet. And I am proud that Britain has played a leading role at the forefront of this green energy revolution”
David Cameron, Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street
Published 26 April 2012
Our Prime Minister did lots on his runway into 10 Downing Street, a trip to the Arctic, a drive in a Gee-Wiz, eco-friendly electric car, even a ride to work by (he did have his driver following in a car) bicycle and even in office he said the coalition administration is to be recognised as “the greenest government ever.”
This year we all put our head in our hands with one of the red top newspapers claiming a senior Tory spokesman told them that the Prime Minister said
“We’ve got to get rid of all this green crap.”
Nov 21, 2013 – The Sun reporter
It might be the spokesman said it but our Prime Minister does not strongly deny using the phrase, saying only that he doesn’t recall using it’ and I suggest this man is not being straight.
When can we change how the country is run I challenge the system as our ministers are thoroughly disreputable, slippery and seem to conduct things with an air of self-entitlement.
Looking at this as a business sector makes me awaken to a BIG lesson, never put your livelihood into the hands of a business that relies on government handouts.. actually it was not I that spotted this my old pal Les Armitage at Gardener Riley who made comment when I got involved (in the days of the Low Carbon Building Programme) with Solar Thermal back in 2008.
The solar industry will make itself prosperous but frankly that is down to the solarpreneur’s in the UK and not the madness by UK government.
If the FiT was made to work around the real price of solar and not the under the table dumped priced from China we would all be better off and have true green manufacturing base.
“A 30% drop in the unit price of European solar panels since the start of 2012 had left Wrexham’s output uncompetitive in the UK” Express & Star, December 16, 2013 Sharp Company CEO Hiroshi Sasaoka
My thoughts as well as best wishes for the future go out to the 615 families (who have family who worked at Sharp) in the Wrexham area.
“There is no comparison to the position of solar now to the industry that I found when I came into office in May 2010,”
Business Green, December 16 2013 Gregory Barker Climate Change Minister
Losing a UK solar panel factory came 16 December 2013 after electronics firm Sharp announced plans to cease production at its facility in Wrexham, North Wales.
Just the same day a comment came from Climate Change Minister Greg Barker taking the glory for how Great Solar Britain was, a few days before Christmas, 615 people without jobs in one go, only two years ago Barker was solar enemy number one and Supreme Court judges eventually ruled against the government, but the cuts to the tariffs
To all but Mr Barker (who is a little slow) the simplest concepts get mixed up, the responsibility for 615 people explaining to their families that it will be tough Christmas, is due to the mindless action of Barker, along with his pals at STA (UK Solar Trade Association) CEO Paul Barwell and PV Specialist Ray Noble when they joined our UK Energy Minister Greg Barker and Government officials in Brusselss and backed China having no duty.
Instead we saw a minimum selling price and that is like a man with an extra pair of testicles (too much bollocks), the minimum selling price was allegedly fake, as the big buyers are apparently getting big rebates. So they buy a China minimum price and get a cheque in the post!
My bet is that these 615 families would say it was wrong and the minister in question is possibly guilty of being disreputable, some might say slippery and even acting with an air of self-entitlement. Don’t take my word for it as you had better ask these solar workers for yourself.
Meanwhile those of us in the EU PV supply chain watch the tumbleweed rolling across the sales office floor.
When EU trade law says that the adequate measure on dumping is to impose tariffs and they have to be designed to eliminate the injury to the European industry caused by the dumping.
You will find an agreement such as minimum pricing is allowed (only) if the injury will also be eliminated and you would be best asking 615 families in Wrexham for their thoughts.
One of my highlights of the year was Jeremy Paxman and his grilling of Greg Barker on last months Newsnight.
The question… Is the Green Deal failing?
The biggest failure in home improvements since WORLD WAR II and you can watch it here,it’s well worth it: http://youtu.be/AmXROyRiCbY. In my opinion Barker schmoozed his way out by including ECO measures to the poor, so spoke about giving away boilers & the like and not Green Deal loans as such.
After all who in Mr Barker’s Department drew up that bureaucratic load of nonsense? In reality “The Green Deal” is a great idea ruined by the never run a (couldn’t run a business) politicians and civil servants. There are lots of loans available far cheaper than 7 percent and that is just one reason we have a multi-billion pound flop on our hands.
From 2014, we will revert back to ECOBODS and with red faces — disassociate ourselves/myself as the company name GreenDeal.net Limited seemed a great idea at the time but lost its sparkle and is despatched to my room 101 of near misses.
Not my only near miss! Starting an Anglo German PV and Thermodynamic range was another entrepreneurial flop… in the world of solar casino, I put my money on black and it came in red. Hey ho — that’s life!
I will dine out on the solarprenurial hash for quite sometime but still think about the (indirectly) thousands of people badly affected by Sharp Wrexham closing and how they will never work in solar manufacturing ever again.
Also at this time I think of Eric, you might well ask “Eric who the heck is Eric?”
Let me tell you about Eric as he typifies many of the solar casualties, at the end of a report in Solar Power Portal is a lone wolf commenting and we’ll call him Eric because Eric is his name.
As much as solar PV has changed the landscape for renewables, the FIT policy that was introduced in 2010, that only supported PV, destroyed my solar thermal water heating business and now at 66, I have nothing left after 13 years to pay off my mortgage
Its a sad situation for both the job losses in Wales in an industry that should be booming as my business was also planned to be.
This country has a start and stop policy in energy and will one day cost us all billions to put right Solar Power Portal 20 December 2013 Eric
Frankly the UK has many Eric’s and they all started with the best of intention and got the green rug pulled very firmly from under their feet.
Mr Barker is not on his own when the occupier of 11 Downing Street has also been knocking the world of green business in th UK!
“Britain should not be in front of the rest of the world in tackling climate change”
September 28 2013 -The Times reporter George Osborne
Not all doom and gloom!
Solar Power Portal say
Over 495,000 homes across the UK are now solar powered, according to the latest statistics published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The week ending 15 December saw 10.88MW of capacity added to the grid, lifting the total number of <50kW installs under the feed-in tariff to 495,459. Almost 96% of those installs are in the sub 4kW domestic sector
This kind of result comes from solarprenuers like you, working hard and using the tools they have.
Lower margins, China modules, ethical selling and better marketing are all down to you… DECC did little more than confuse policy and you should have a pat on the back.
Also great is that there are now over 700 ground-mount projects above 250kW in size, of which approximately 30% have been fully completed until now. Over 480 ground-mount projects therefore fall into the project pipeline, with the capacity of these projects now exceeding 4GW.
As the year comes to a close, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you, for your continued commitment to experiencing the difference with our powerful products and solutions.
I’ve learned a lot from your feedback this year, and from the countless meetings and workshops we have conducted. I’ve learned that you’re leaders in your industry. Your innovation is both groundbreaking and wave-making. I’ve learned that giving the best deal to your client is your #1 priority.
With domestic RHI coming in 2014, I hope that our heat pumps and solar thermal products will improve the way you do business next year. I hope that our around-the-clock support team has impressed you with their knowledge and friendliness.
I hope that our company’s finance support team improved when you offered clients funding.
We hope that you’ve taken advantage of our Leadership Kai Zen days and free marketing advice. If not, I hope you’ll get involved in the new year, and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
It has been pleasure once more to work with you and we are adding some of the most powerful services for you in 2014 and I will keep you posted
What a time for our business! We lobby for higher FiT.
As Anti-dumping duties are just around the corner we are about see huge changes and as such we need higher FiT
I just created the petition “Solar PV Feed-in-Tariff To Go Up After 6 August” and wanted to ask if you could add your name too.
This campaign means a lot to me and the more support we can get behind it, the better chance we have of succeeding. You can read more and sign the petition here:
The title is SOLAR PV FEED-IN-TARIFF TO GO UP AFTER 6 AUGUST and aimed at GREG BARKER DECC read more
As June saw installations jump up to just under 6000 installations in one week, we all clap our hands but knowingly we could forecast the first couple of weeks in July would plunge as those in the know rushed to buy solar beforedegression kicked in. This FiT idea designed by the government Sales Prevention Officer at DECT (Department of Climate Change and Chocolate Teapots) frankly allowed solarprenuers to catch a few sunray’s of their own. A great time to getaway.At this time China based PV manufacturers are not sending the EU vast amounts of modules in fear of 47% average ADD (anti dumping duty) as solar PV systems could face a significant hike in capital costs, following EU decisions to increase anti-dumping duties on imported Chinese panels by this large amount on 6 August.
As 8 out of 10 modules installed today in the UK are from China, we can expect a solar module drought, the amount of EU manufacturers are lower than ever as many have closed or merged and they will increase prices to get back into the black as they have lost money in the race to the bottom for prices.
We are seeing investors forward ordering multi MW farms from EU manufacturers and this will give a challenge to UK installers. Supply & Demand will drive prices up and we should prepare for modules costing .80p per watt in the not to distant future.
This will change the ROI on PV and DECC Degression will be skipped if deployment is below a floor threshold
This is for a maximum of two successive degression periods and that means we will see a a minimum of 3.5% degression every 9 months and this could be a disaster.
Solar panel price rises are here today, if you have a wholesaler that bought large stocks, prepare as they will either run out of stock or decide to have a larger margin at your expense.
If must happen as all manufacturers have absorbed huge losses.
With the recent over capacity situation in the solar panel market reduces due to huge increases in oversupply from China, as well as reduced need due to slashed incentives, we see multi-million pound plants in mothballs, liquidators and companies pulling out of the market altogether. Most solar manufacturers have been running at a loss throughout the last year or two and they will see this as a chance to get into profit. Prepare for large increases in costs and an element of searching for modules if FiT does not fall. If we have falling FiT and high prices it might be time to add something with a juicy domestic RHI to the portfolio next year.
For these reasons I ask you join my petition and that you contact your MP and ask for a freeze on degression and possibly an increased FiT.
Should we be on holiday?
Frankly it should not be a good time to be away as selling the concept of solar today is much easier than 4:30pm on a dark December afternoon but hey-ho if FiT causes a roller coaster in our business we might as well go on holiday or focus on a sales & marketing plan to make hay whilst the sunshine’s on our roof top or warms up the soil in readiness for heat pumps taking off with the much awaited RHI for domestic use (we’ll look at this one in a minute).
DECC created an early holiday
Whilst we bask in sunshine I note from my travels that many ‘solarpreneurs’ have chosen this time to impersonate solar panels by inclining themselves on a sun lounger and pointing south. You can spot a solarprenuer as they have insider knowledge about keeping cool in order to enhance performance and have a temperature coefficient serviced by several large cool drinks a day (often impersonating thermal with something added distilled) to keep at 100% efficiency.
This means they might point due south to catch those ‘rays’ but are never too far from a long cool drink and they are therefore something of a hybrid thermal/PV collector.
Creating more business with Pay Per Click
If you are away then well done and (based on criticism from several installers about the length of these emails) at least you have an entire week to read this diatribe!
Should you be reading this from a deckchair then no doubt you are alos keeping in touch with business (even on holiday) with an Apple device or some other technical widget named after fruit. As we all tend to carry a mobile device you might want to also set up some Google AdWords – by seeing this link for Online Advertising by Google
At this time of year the leads can flood in, just set up some very specific long tail Pay Per Click keywords as you will probably know “Long-tail keywords” are typically defined as search queries that contain 3 or more keywords. These terms usually have low search volume and low cost-per-clicks (CPCs), yet they are often overlooked by many PPC marketers. As most of solarprenuer’s are aware it can be costly to have terms such as ‘solar panels’ but spending a little time in the deckchair thinking about search terms that people use could make you a lot of sales for little cost.
Getting rich pickings from Google
A great friend of mine has built a £multi-million sales business using these long tail PPC phrases, his advice was “park your ego at the door” and then he said ” think what the customer types in to Google and not want you want to sell them”. For example we might like to think a surfer of the web seeking solar will search ‘quality solar installer Greater Manchester’ when typing in the customers mindset it might be in fact ‘cheap solar panels Ashton-under-Lyne’ you could do the same unless of course you are not in Ashton and perhaps you might improvise with some town (not county) in a tight area around you.
You can Google for more tips but Google make it easy to get started and in many ways DECT have forced the time to think marketing and sales strategy upon us. My good pal Richard M, is in the same sector, using Google he makes 200+ leads per month within an hours drive (most within 20 minutes), 100 of these become appointments made and 80 of these are appointments kept. What could you do with an extra 80 appointments?
Success in sales comes from converting 50% of our appointments kept into sales
Visiting installers I get feedback of 1 sale in 10 as a conversion ratio, a very successful company averages 1 sale in 8 appointments and I spoke with another who gets better that 1 sale from every two appointments.
What is the difference between these three businesses?
They are in very similar locations, very similar premises, operated by renewable savvy solarprenuers’, seeking to make high quality installations, the business owners all start/finish work at the same time, have holidays at the same time, dress the same and want to build a noteworthy business.
They will all be pleased to spend money on making more sales enquirers and turning these into appointments but frankly only one of these installers should increase spending on marketing.
Unless the solarprenuer is gaining a 1 in 2 conversion from appointment’s kept to sales made they are burning leads which equates to wasting lots of money and need to focus instead on what the business owner who gets better than a 1 in 2 conversion actually does. The focus is only on three things i. appearance ii. manner iii. words.
Once a framework is in place we will replicate the best operator, with 50% conversions of sales appointments, we can afford to out market and obviously outsell those with appalling conversion ratio’s.
If we are converting at 1 in 3 or more then we are now probably scratching our head (or some other part of your anatomy), thinking how do we do that and it is impossible.
It is possible, it can happen in your business if you are open to change
The fact is people are doing it and if you are scratching your head then you need to concentrate on the ‘why’ you are not getting this result in your business and I do have the answer. To get the answer I got in touch with Greg Rigby of Pendle Consultants and you can also get in contact at the website here and we discussed the solar dilemma.
For a few thousand pounds a week, Greg or one of his consultant’s will visit your business and bespoke a sales framework for your business, for another few grand they will train your staff and for another chunk of cash they will possibly recruit a sales team or show you how to only employ winners. It would be the best investment you can make as Greg has put business owners on the Sunday Times Rich List with his know how in the higher end of retail consumer purchase. Or for £25 (£12.50 if you buy today and put in code ’50’)
If your business does not convert one sale from every two appointments you have UI
The dilemma is a feature known as unconscious incompetence (UI) (before you email some angry comment please read on) as to how we get over 50% of our customers to buy.
I often use the analogy of learning how to drive a car to explain this challenge.
First you might not know how to drive a car and which handles do what, you might not even know what a car is and the concept is one that does not bother you and this isunconscious incompetence
You learn about your lack of knowledge and incompetence in this area, you then strive to learn about cars, seek out the dreaded theory test information and how to drive one.
We flick on the wipers when trying idictate an intention to turn right or left from the road. We are scared with, kangaroo hops, messing up three-point or U-turns hill starts, multiple lessons, possibly later failing a driving test or two and that isconscious incompetence
You then learn to stop rolling backwards on hill starts, gain clutch control by watching for the biting point, seek the books on the highway code, can do a three point turn by looking out for the kerb, when actually behind the wheel you think mirror-signal-maneuver and it all works as it should. You now have the know how to operate a car, what handles do what and you are actively learning how to drive a car to the point you are going to pass the driving test. You must however focus a lot on the task or else you’ll make mistakes and this is what we call conscious competence.
Once you have passed your test, gained the needful from DVLA full license department , after driving for perhaps 10,000 or 100,000 miles I hope we can all agree that driving is easy. You don’t need to concentrate as hard as you did anymore, it’s all second nature now. You have the capacity to relax, turn up the radio and even talk on the phone unconscious competence.
Your business is just the same
A car is like a business, it cannot crash unless you get behind the wheel.
Car’s don’t crash- people crash cars and in business it is the same, businesses don’t crash, people (business owners) crash businesses.
Get a conversion ratio of 50% of the sales appointments you keep GUARANTEED*
So back to my chat with Greg, he agreed to look at the sector, for a fee he agreed to do what he does best and that is design a sales & marketing framework for domestic sales of solar. If you would like to convert 50% of your appointments
For one day only I have a 50% off present for you.
It was my 50th last week, to celebrate this I invite you to a webinar, the cost of putting this on is already subsidised by AG TECHNIK to £25 and for today only I will split with you 50/50 and that means £12.50 is the price you pay. Enter promotional code 50 at http://kaizenmorning.eventbrite.co.uk/
With subsiidy from AG TECHNIK, I invested in Greg going on the road, looking at PV and as such Greg Rigby is ready to guarantee results.
What is in it for me?
I will not make a penny directly from you attending, in fact it will have cost me considerably more to put this event on than I will receive and the reason is I know a new sales approach for solar is a must do. We have no option but to make change happen and for that reason- you are invited to Kaizen Morning 改善 Webinar. To see more click here .
My reward will come from your need to close sales at 50% ratio, this will require you hunting down a module not sold to your local cowboy competitor who just sticks a few hundred quid on top of cost prices as Greg will be expecting you to make maximum margins as well as selling to more people
For £12.50 you are guaranteed to have clients agree to buy from you at a ratio of better than 50% on appointments kept and this means 1 client in every two will buy from you if you implement the strategy.
This online event is Saturday morning, 27 July 2013 from 07:45 to 10:00 (BST), yes we did include AG TECHNIK up as sponsor, nobody is required to buy any products and I just know that we will all get an insight to run a business with a considerable improvement to our sales.
Power up your Solar business with Kaizen (改善) business management circleAG TECHNIKSaturday, 27 July 2013 from 07:45 to 10:00 (BST)People are booked an paid at £25 with today’s deal £12.50 if you book within 24 hours Guarantee is in place with the promise from Greg that you will leave his course, able to close 50% of the deals you go on.
What we do know is that figures are the truth, if (say) 2500 PV installations (under 50kW) are what are made in a week and we have (say) 86 counties this equates to 29 installations per week. Some of these might still be investor based FREE or with PPA, some are social landlords and this means the number in your area could be (say) 18-20 installations per week.
If the true market in your county is 20 installations per week, that is the natural size of your current market and you have four options:
a) Conquest more business by stealing market share from your competition and that comes from converting at a higher ratio than they do
b) Enter larger markets by expanding into other counties (risky if you are not converting sales at the highest possible ratio)
c) Take on new sectors (if domestic only then look at commercial or if commercial only seek more from domestic) or new products such adding different renewable technologies
d) Whilst on holiday look in the estate agents window, sell up and buy a deckchair for the beach
“having balanced the requirements of the RECC and REA Codes of Practice along with professional sales techniques I have produced a Sales Process for Solar PV that is wholly compliant and will guarantee conversion rates in excess of 50% if the process is followed” This is the last opportunity to book and places are limited. Book here on a first come first served basis. Having watched Greg operating in other sectors I just know this will be your best money spent so far this year.
Looking at the details below might be a help as the truth is a great taskmaster and DECT have been good at keeping score.
Sunday, July 7,
Not our finest week with 3000 UK installers sharing 921 Solar PV installations made in the under 50 kW sector and the installed capacity was some 2,970 (kW)
Sunday, July 14,
The figures for the UK Solar PV installers are a combined weekly total of 1,351 Solar PV installations and the installed capacity was some 4,617 (kW).Great to see some increased numbers and UK solar getting back on track. However we need to look at growing this and frankly our marketing should focus on offers to allow for an incentive to fill the dip in our forward installation planning.
If you are however not away then now is the time to catch your competitor totally unaware and capture market share!
Whether at your desk or reclining on a blue sky holiday it might be the time we could work out what to expect over the next twelve months in the world of solar.
If the sales figures continue to bounce along like this we might all agree we need a new plan.
If we look at the real statistics two things can be established:
a) Very bad week is just under 1000 installations
b) Very best week is say 6000 installations.
The above is in the under 50kW sector.
With all the pain for very little gain, a new way forward is required, without knowing your personal answer for the year ahead, all I can say is you might be thinking like a pioneering solarprenuer brimming with commonsense,(DECC are not as savvy) yet if we look back over the last few years that kind of forethought and solar savvy does not seem to have been always offered up by the government who are a requisite in our business.
Could we therefore look back at DECT (Department of Energy and Chocolate Teapots) to see if they acted with good forethought, down-to-earth, solar savvy, astute business sense or on the other hand have we all become embroiled in the traitorous or even perfidious actions of a naive government.
Based on what we have seen to date, my tounge in cheek thoughts are that we might stand the entire business process on its head as frankly all rationale and commonsense seems to have gone out of the window since Feed in Tariff was invented.
The facts are as clear as the nose on our face, again we can take an overview of certain factors such as the costs of development as well as the production of fossil fuel energy, in the very first instance our old think energy was underwritten with our taxpayers money and this filled the pockets of a few who owned traditional energy companies.
Should we ever build the true costs into the price of all energy, solar power is not just competitive, it’s cheaper.
The day will come with grid parity and the honest results will show through once all (direct or indirect) energy subsidies are removed.
We have a strong market for solar power today. We have a willing market, the necessary technology, and an undisputable imperative to create a cleaner, safer planet. I’m delighted to call to meet installers who are mainly committed to leading a company that delivers the best technology and service.
If we continue to revolutionise solar power generation on a UK scale, one kilowatt hour at a time we will hit those targets and make great businesses.
We should look to finance or creative financing to seek out a new method of selling as we are on the verge of having that robust renewable energy market as
prices from the BIG 6 is set to spiral with RWE NPOWER forecasting the energy bill policy is set to make energy costs rise by 78% between 2013 and 2020.
This kind of increase stops the industry only being here to chase the next subsidy. For the good of our energy future, subsidies for all energy must eventually end and we will need ti educate ourselves with a new pitch to deliver this.
Some say a great industry was literally hung out to dry by allowing conditions to prevail that makes Solar a sector that is now often criticised.
All types of renewable energy offers all parties the greatest opportunity in the history of the world and we are all making this history.
In the longer term we will win but we must know what to expect in the solar market in 2013.
Some of the things we need to look at are facts to see if the industry will stagnate or will it grow exponentially.
If Solar PV manufacturers continue to fold, will they all be acquired and if so what will happen
Will the market regain some stability
Who will emerge as a clear leading brand in the UK
What will China do this year about ADD and how will the change the market
How will the increase in costs of utilities change and how will the change an ever evolving solar market
The above are not questions that I can offer a factual answer as many are being decided
We need to promote a disciplined framework in a rigorous combined with a marketing methods to add value to get more business.
Recommendations are a great scheme all based on our results and our standards of work.
For the domestic sales we simply need to look for the Baby Boomers
The Boomers represent the greatest untapped opportunity for Solar PV marketers, you already understand this and realise marketing to others will not produce the same results. For those solar marketers looking to target a precise offer to the over 50’s, value for money is highly important for Baby Boomers and they are actively comparing prices. Try to demonstrate value for money and they do like quality engineering. They know they are buying electrical goods, placed outside to face the elements for a decade or three and on that basis having a variety of solar products available will allow the Boomer options to be sold up to a better brand.
Don’t assume Baby Boomers are stuck in their ways – as these guys (must remember I became a nifty fifty myself last week) matter and should be front of mind for solar marketers and solar advertisers.
The most surprising research is how the Baby Boomer of today challenges the stereotypes we all apply from what we saw in the prior generation. The 60 year old of today think like a 40 year old of yesterday. For all intents and purposes, this is a group of consumers who would deliver a greater return on investment if we took the time to speak to them in a manner which reflect their stage of life and lifestyle. These are silver haired adventurers, highly active, great networkers, enjoying working in later years.
This is a demographic relatively free from advertising clutter and competition; ripe for an advertiser willing to be brave. Look out for marketing of solar energy has moved from just being a green option for wealthy hippies, following this we sold to financially savvy silver fox investors seeking an alternative to an ISA and now it will be sold as a ‘must have’ to avoid the trap of spiraling energy costs.
Now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for! DOMESTIC RENEWABLE HEAT INCENTIVE
I joined this industry in the days of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme and technologies such Solar Thermal were growing on a steady curve until I went to a conference calledPreparing For The Solar Boom Ahead , between setting up the conference marketing plan and the delivery all that changed.
Keynote speaker was a Mr Hergen Haye, Director of Heat Policy at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, he proclaimed Solar Thermal (amongst other domestic technologies) was over in terms of government subsidy and my jaw dropped the floor. I had grafted for two years with display kit, stock, a pallett of brochures and this man declared my business was over until domestic RHI was launched! Then Mr Haye explained we should all look at Solar PV as a scheme would be launched the following year and Solar Thermal companies went to the wall. Last year we lost over 40% of the previous years amount of sales of Thermal as this market continues to go int free-fall.
My agencies with ECOBODS were kicked so far into the long grass with Solar Thermal and Ground Source Heat Pumps that I went on the road selling Solar PV to the domestic market and looked for a new agency. Today I’m delighted to have the Solar Agency of AG TECHNIK in place and can now offer superb EU Solar products with components from world leading German engineering.
Getting back to Mr Haye, whose best intentions might be best discussed with him and not me! In the opinion of some he is a muppet and others a puppet.
He might however be really clever, leaving all of us in renewable energy with his eye in another direction, Hergen Haye found a new position very quickly as BERR fell off the radar, the Department of Energy and Chocolate Teapots enabled Mr Haye to use his knowledge as the Head of New Nuclear at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) of the British government since 2010. If Mr Haye, just came clean, mentioned a great big U Turn would lead to us all waiting 5 years for domestic RHI, a blip of success for domestic Solar PV, heading us all to Nuclear Power stations and fracking for gas we could have prepared alternative schemes.
What we do know that we have all been grafting, making businesses with what we have, whilst the Civil Servants have been having it large not with bribery of course but some jolly spiffing outings with dinners at the five-star Berkeley, KPMG working with RWE-Npower also took our under fed Mr Haye and his pals to other venues for hospitality enjoyed by the OND’s senior officials include the Reform Club, the Cavalry and Guards Club, the Royal Horseguards hotel, the RAC Club, Roux at Parliament Square, the Naval & Military Club, 1 Lombard Street and the Cinnamon Club . Following this under the table emails were sent between companies and DECC. Frankly I’m not going any further as these are allegations only and I have had some huge companies legal departments on my case already since I started airing my views in these missives when I started casting aspersions on some of the globe’s biggest Solar PV companies getting into trouble and talking about Anti dumping duty in the USA.
Getting back to domestic RHI
We all say ABOUT TIME, with a sigh of relief we can look at what this really means.
What the papers say
Householders will be able to claim hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year for green heating technologies such as solar hot water systems from next year under a flagship renewable energy scheme. But Guardian analysis shows that despite the increases in the government payment levels announced on Friday, it will still take decades to recoup the upfront costs of installing these technologies.
If you have been away on a holiday without internet
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last week (Friday 12 July) confirmed the tariffs for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme – 7.3p/kWh for air-source heat pumps, 12.2p/kWh for biomass boilers, 18.8p/kWh for ground-source heat pumps and at least 19.2p/kWh for solar thermal.
The feedback is varied but in general we should all prepare for business to get back to growth.
During 2010 & 2011 the industry took a nose dive for solar thermal as sales were sinking and now we can get back to some growth. I do expect solar thermal will sell better when incorporated with another technology such as geothermal heat pumps and the like
Our chums in Solar Thermodynamic have not been included as yet and I wonder if this is down to DECC/GemServ being lobbied by the more traditional technologies.
We could also do well to look at the hybrid systems (combined heat pump and boiler) as this will be an interesting combination and might even avoid a ground loop in some situations.
If you are in Solar PV then please do look at getting help toward this exciting new development and think about domestic RHI as this is a catalyst for significant market growth.
Geothermal heat pumps.
As we prepare to develop a network for Climate Master (the world’s larget geothermal heat pump manufacturer), a USA giant in the industry sees this is the time to become the market leader and are developing a new dealer network. TheECOBODS team are inviting installers to apply for dealer status, it is intended that full training will be given and every installation will be signed off to ensure the manufacturers warranty can be issued with confidence. Email for more details on expanding your business with a Climate Masterdealership
AG TECHNIK have developed a range of products for the UK market in addition to Solar PV by Q CELLS, they have a range of full copper plate solar thermal and this means hot water for longer periods thant standard solar collectors. To get more information on the AG TECHNIK hot water range and find out about the installer partner opportunity apply online
With the new tariff levels providing paybacks for some technologies of less than five years it means a lot to be happy about:
Homeowners now have a huge financial reason for investment and you need to get booked onto a course with Greg above although about PV the entire industry needs to innovate to deliver the propositions which they are looking for.
Gte in front of architects, scour planning portals as the self-builders have are now an important customer segment … they are a fast growth buyer for renewable heat, and with and tend to have a few bob for investment or can borrow at good rates. Yogen research shows over 25% of self-builds have some form of microgeneration.
Get in front of the landlords in your area who have a critical role to play in growing low carbon heat. They like investments and the RHI gives them a guaranteed revenue stream which will have increasing appeal.
So using RHI or FiT, we should not per se revolve around the green element, but rather around the praticalities: It is time for solar to be seen as a practical solution, something that we need rather than something green that is nice to have. It is up to the industry to market solar as such, so that people start to see it as a necessity.
Lately I feel hopeful, I see so many signs that there’s this some green shoots beyond a terrible mess happening in the renewable energy industry.
Eventually the day of parity will come and we can escape the need for government subsidy and we are in the right place as the renewables sector is evolving right before our eyes.
That’s how I hope you see the world, rather than the focus on all of the problems, we do have the light at the end of the tunnel (and it is not the bailiff with a torch) as people are very slowly waking up once again to a need for a greener planet.
As a country or as a planet we have crisis. We are in the cycle of recession and just like the all the seasons it is a cycle. Recession is like winter, we need this because things die in winter and things are cleaned out so that there’s room for the new springtime.
In the renewable energy business we are not yet seeing the business springtime, but each business can make the most of the market and do more individually to enter springtime now, but as a sector, we’re right now still in winter and there’s enough crisis within all the technologies.
As renewable energy manufacturers continue to fold,with Conergy solar module and mounting system manufacturing units going to the wall. A sharp operator Daniel Ades, the 32-year-old investment wiz kid has bought the name and sales operation in terms of Kawa Capital Management of Florida
Move fast in case the market stagnates, market yourself, get into new geographical areas, seek new product extensions and above all prepare to convert 50% of all the sales meetings you have by getting onto this Kaizen morning and use the code ’50’ to get 50% off the price… go on book now by clicking here
We need certainty of stability, dumping tariffs will lead to greater issues to change the market, the increase in costs of utilities will be big enough to make people blame green energy but things will change for the better in an ever evolving solar market.
Some solarprenuers are already pushed over the edge and others solarpreneurs aren’t and I can promise you, over the next three or four years you’re going to see a lot more crisis and you’re going to see a lot more breakthroughs and on the other side of it, just keep the cashflow under observation to last out and we’ll enter a new springtime that will be worthy of this huge wait. A shorter route does exist by following the theory of Kaizen, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel—learn from the best and do use my subsidised option by
entering the number 50 at this link Enter promotional code it is limited for today only.
Take heart, Solarpreneurs. We have a bright future ahead and tough times only shake the loose apples off of the tree. Hang on!
See you at the top,
Direct dial 01886 880088
Energy Conservation Centre
Telephone 0845 055 8203
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Npower kick off with a grumble about UK green energy and blame others for blaming them
Prepare for increases in costs as over £1 billion is purported to be spent on power networks to connect up a whole new generation of offshore wind farms. Npower said transportation costs will add an additional £114 to the average domestic bill by 2020.
RWE npower plc (trading as npower) is a UK-based electricity and gas supply generation company, formerly known as Innogy plc.
The new chief executive of Npower, Paul Massara, said: “Energy costs are rising. This is an indisputable fact, and it’s time that all of us involved in energy in the UK are upfront about it.”
He went on: “We are very clear that we do not want to be critical of government – rather, we want to ensure customers have the facts, so that they understand that for this cost, they will get a low-carbon economy, security of supply and warm, insulated homes.”
He said his firm was calling for an end to the energy “blame game” and in return Greg Barker was reported by the FT as saying ” rising global gas prices, not green policies, were pushing up bills”. He said that in 2020, bills would be £166 less than they would be “if we left ourselves exposed to global price shocks, left our homes leaking energy, and left future generations to deal with climate change”.
The Energy companies do need to put something back but frankly If I was the CEO of a huge power company I would squint at DECC ideas of fighting climate change with the idea of ECO, launched in January this year, which obliges the big six to giveaway gas boilers and insulation for low income households.
The government has said ECO will add £53 to a typical dual fuel bill. But npower said it would add £88 and it is another cost paid by the taxpayer.
The battle has only just begun, next we will see other power companies all jumping on the bandwagon, Ofgem also this month proposed reforms to limit suppliers to offering four core tariffs and to help customers find the cheapest option, changes that are likely to come into effect in December.
Are the power companies and government having a scrap?
I think so!
Whilst we might be sorry for the energy companies not getting big handouts from UK government it is frankly not the season for handouts and DECC is something of a Chocolate Teapot (perhaps DECT is the right name) with all they say and do.
It is only my opinion that the big 6 are playing tricks, whilst the sun is on our backs, we are warned of price increases and when they come in November we can be sure that we will be reminded of it being everybody else fault not the energy companies.
Energy companies have shareholders and an increase to hike up the revenue stream is all they require so the consumer cannot win unless they buy shares in the BIG 6 and install renewable energy.
The government will oppose attempts to set a new renewable energytarget within the EU, in a move that could put at risk tens of billions of pounds of green investment and tens of thousands of new jobs.
The question of a renewable energy target for 2030 – to take over from the current goal, of generating 20% of energy in the EU from renewable sources by 2020 – has been a vexed issue for government and industry. Chancellor George Osborne has opposed setting clear targets for 2030, preferring a “dash for gas” that would see 20 or more new gas-fired power stations built in the next decade. Green campaigners say that would be fatal for attempts to tackle climate change, and have called for higher ambitions on renewable energy.
URGENT CLIMATE VOTE
In 24 hours we’ve got our best chance yet to secure a clean energy target to tackle climate change. The vote’s on a knife-edge. And if we’re going to win, we need to get as many MPs as we can to turn up and vote the right way.
Could you help persuade your MP to do the right thing? We’ve already convinced 17 wavering MPs to vote the right way. The vote’s on Tuesday – and we need to get as many of the others to vote the right way by then. Just enter your postcode below and click the button to write your email to your MP.
Please stop the dash for gas, save renewable energy by clicking this link and we’ll guide you through to emailing your MP
Time to make the switch to clean energy or keep to gas
In the UK we’re fortunate to be sitting on a wealth of clean, green renewable energy from the wind, the sun, and the sea, which, if harnessed, would provide us with more than than enough energy to serve our needs. In fact, we could even sell it to Europe and give our economy a much needed boost.
It’s a crucial time for UK energy policy. The Energy Bill, which will reform the electricity market, is currently going through parliament. With almost a quarter of our power stations to be closed in the coming decade, and a legal obligation to meet reduce carbon emissions, it’s essential that the government gets this reform right, and leads the UK to a clean, green energy future.
Take heart, Solarpreneurs. We can help persuade our MP to do the right thing.
For once, we all agree. 82% of people want to see more renewable energy. Yet George Osborne is still trying to keep us hooked on fossil fuels. On Tuesday, MPs must pick a side.
Some things aren’t up for debate.
They’re facts. Like death, or taxes – or cleaning up our power system. If we want to tackle climate change, we are going to have to close dirty coal and gas power stations and start generating low-carbon, renewable electricity.
The only thing left to argue about is when we make the switch.
Most people – and you can count me amongst them – think it will be cheaper and easier to make the switch now. The Committee on Climate Change thinks that switching nice and early could save every family in Britain £1,600.
Yet some people in government don’t seem to get it. Like the Chancellor, George Osborne, who’s trying to stop MPs from cleaning up our power.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that his father-in-law is a fossil fuel lobbyist.
Now Ernst & Young, one of the Big Four accountancy firms, has warned that Osborne is putting off investors. The private sector is getting spooked, and is talking about investing overseas instead of in the UK. If that happens, we would miss out on thousands of jobs designing, manufacturing and installing wind turbines, solar panels and other types of renewable energy.
This is madness, but it’s not too late to stop it.
On Tuesday, MPs will vote on our energy future. If they stand up to Osborne and put a clean power target into the Energy Bill, we can boost our economy and help tackle climate change.
We probably find ourselves with the biggest dilemma for Solar PV ever!
“The champion wins first, then walks into the arena. Everybody else walks into the arena and then tries to figure out what to do.”
We now know that the majority of EU countries are opposed to a plan to which will impose hefty duties on solar panel imports from China.
All efforts by Brussels to pressure Beijing over its trade practices are being hampered in the largest trade case the Commission has ever undertaken, with about £15 billion of China-made solar panels sold in the EU market.
Whilst many sit with their head in hand hoping China will not be found guilty of selling Solar PV at below cost, industry leaders support China in what might be an illegal act.
Before some people decide to reply (always welcome a reply) by sending an an angry email comment, please first seek out an alternative to our false altar of cheap price over high value and instead develop a new strategy as an alternative to a low margin. Low margins are not the only way forward.
Instead of exerting resources on creating a ‘made in Great Britain’ sector for renewable energy equipment The Rt Hon Gregory Barker MP (Minister of State at the Department of Energy & Climate Change) went to Brussels last week lobbying in favour of China it looks as though he is not worried about Solar PV being imported from China too cheaply, thereby flooding the European market, distorting competition and hurting European manufacturers.
Frankly the knee-jerk reaction from Brussels is wrong as they have proposed imposed an average 47 percent special import duty on Chinese solar panels and I gather the mobile phone sector is next in the firing line. Be careful what you wish for in this world, for if you wish hard enough you are sure to get it and I promise you dumping any kind of product must be avoided.
We are at the vanguard of a new era, if Solar PV becomes a precedent for below cost modules from PRC it is akin to closing down the high street shops by a Tesco style operator. Yes the public would get cheap food at below cost until all the little shops have gone and then prices will go up and the big players make profits. Solar PV is no different from any other product and if anti dumping is (will be) brought in as a levy it will create a more sustainable PV business. Perhaps we could go back to DECC and lobby for a FiT increase as it was all about ROI and cheaper modules are the reason stated (perhaps this is why Greg Barker is pleading to keep China in the dumping game) by DECC.
In a decade it might be mobile phones or our motor assembly business, one day we might make nothing grow nothing, have no call centre to work in and be so poor we are working in the sweatshops to make goods for the wealthy factory owners who duped us all by dominating markets, gaining control and increasing prices.
Whilst the good and the great of PV are in the UK & EU we must consider not allowing any perpetrator to flood our market at below cost as it is equally a botched/crazy plan to polarise a new industry with this instant tax. Conflicts and opposition will not resolve the greater environmental and energy challenges facing the human race.
Perhaps a trade agreement based on more simple collaboration could help as frankly the global PV industries depended on each other for survival, frankly one of the toughest challenges might come from China, the economy of the Peoples Republic of China is not naturally a market economy and therefore making a profit could be further down the list of things to do than we could imagine.
If a higher profit (or some say any profit margin) could be an enforced requirement for the PV executives in China it might make them as enthusiastic as we are about standing up for basic free market principles and a China based trade association such as CRES might help to monitor the prices and profitability of manufacturers in China.
As many businesses in Solar PV will struggle it will mean that some will merge, some will close-down, others will prosper and the sector will slowly grow without the burdens of over production.
If left unchecked 100% of the EU or US based renewable energy component makers will wither away and then China will increase the prices to a much higher level.
Whilst many agree the industry must remain sustainable, this is not best cured with the imposition of an overnight 47% duty landing on the China components and finished modules so rapidly
On the other hand we might be surprised at the very people openly supporting China dumping stock as a number of key UK solar industry players have accompanied Barker on his mission to support China, including the chairman of the British Photovoltaic Association, Reza Shaybani , Rupert Higgin Managing Director, The Green Electrician, Jan Sisson, Managing Director of Juwi and Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association (STA).
Whilst working together on support for China I do hope they make time to plan an alternative strategy.
As industry and government decision makers they and we with a stake in the renewable energy sector all need a plan b’ as this is the time to make a longer term plan with authoritative projections of Solar PV trends through to to 2030 and think about the UK, perhaps look at energy security, environmental sustainability and renewable energy economic development.
If a levy on Solar PV from China does come at 47% (or other number), the levy is paid, what will happen to the money and could this money be used to supply soft loans to UK or EU Solarprenuers willing to start manufacturing modules and components for solar.
Could we then create a whole sector?
After all we can make things and we can sell them all over the world. If we focused on renewable energy perhaps we might turn the nuclear power off and create thousands of jobs.
Climate change issues are a big route to beat our economy issues, global energy demand, production, trade, investment and carbon-dioxide emissions are something we could be doing across the EU or even broken down by UK region or county, by town and by technologies such as CHP, Biomass, Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Wind and Geothermal heat pumps, Air source heat pumps and developments in other ideas to service our needs on a sector by sector basis. Rather than just saying to the EU Commission we all want PV at below cost we should look at the EU to unlocking the economic potential for renewable energy or energy efficiency country-by-country and sector-by-sector.
Whilst the insights of the longer term energy future is invaluable to those who seek to shape our energy future, we must keep our focus on a strategy to generate new business and market ourselves out of what might be stagnant market.You can be sure the price of PV will now go up, the EU might meddle even more by loading our VAT back to 20% instead of the 5% our government is alleged to be doing illegally.
We might see a VAT increase but will this be fed back into FiT but (just my opinion) we frankly won’t see much from a government who are financially squeezed.
We need to develop a new strategy, perhaps we should not revolve around the green element, but rather around the practicalities: It is time for solar to be seen as a practical solution, something that we need rather than something green that is nice to have. It is up to the industry to market solar as such, so that people start to see it as a necessity. If the EU Commission keep doing silly things to the renewable energy installers client I can see us all tipping the balance and we will see the posh occupants waving goodbye to Downing Street, the new occupants will be left a Good Luck in Your New Home card and I only wonder if it will say To the Swivel Eyed Loons From The We Never Saw That One Coming Party!
Regardless of all the macro happenings above, we must prepare to skillfully take the disciplined approach to take market share from our nearest competitors.
If we get our strategy right we can build our businesses to whatever size we like, we need to firstly look at our appearance, what we look like or what our business looks like is the first thing people see, they will judge the entire business on the look, get a budget for how you look because if you don’t put the branding in you won’t get the real benefits of your business or the real returns from your assets. By all means dream, from dreams come ideas, from ideas, things can happen…. you must tryout your ideas and don’t worry about failing.
If you get words for the end user-client you can make a difference to peoples lives, we need to get our client to buy in to what we do, having a consensus, we do this by asking questions, being humble and doing things right for the client on each and every occasion.
All the above sounds really simple, if you are already doing all the above then you are creating over 20 leads per week for each estimator, you are trimming these down to 10-15 qualified appointments every week with all the decision makers, the first face to face meeting is based around the sub title “The champion wins first, then walks into the arena. Everybody else walks into the arena and then tries to figure out what to do”, this creates a closing ratio of better than 1 sale made for every two quotations made and at better margins than you ever thought possible.
This is all do-able with the right strategy (ideas), the right look (branding), the right leadership (managing a best strategy), the right team (having the right profile of people) and the right words (asking the right questions).
This is something the manufacturers ought to invest in as the long term marketplace will be dominated by those equipped to deliver a message of quality and get to a “yes” based on the customer replying to our questions.
We’ve moved into our new home at the foot of the Malvern Hills and have the space we need to grow.
As the dust settles after a hectic Ecobuild we can reflect on the best action in
light of the EU who have potentially introduced a registration tax on
solar pv panels imported from china as part of an anti dumping investigation
A European Commission is holding an anti-dumping investigation into imports
of Chinese solar cells and modules, allows for retroactive application of anti
Some giant Solar PV companies are alleged to be in trouble or as they say
restructuring with NYSE reporting strange trading with Suntech and SolarWorld
having similar restructuring ideas and not reporting financial results as expected
Suntech Power Holdings,is reported by Digitimes to have announced that it has been contacted by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) regarding unusual trading activity relating to its American depositary shares on March 14. Management of the firm is not aware of undisclosed events that triggered such trading activity, according to Suntech. The firm is aware of recent market rumors and third-party reports regarding the firm’s financial position and other matters.
As reported by Suntech on March 11, 2013, the firm has entered into a forbearance agreement with holders of over 60% of its 3% convertible notes, for which a principal payment of US$541 million is due on March 15, 2013. The firm does not plan to make such payments and the firm’s management is not aware of any pending or planned actions or claims in relation to such non-payments by the trustee or the holders of the convertible notes, said Suntech. As previously disclosed, Suntech plans to continue to work with holders of the convertible notes with a view to achieving a consensual restructuring, the company said.
SOLAR WORLD AG will make an announcement of a debt plan for Germany’s largest solar group, SolarWorld said in a statement on Tuesday. At the end of September 2012, the company had long-term debt of 1.03 billion euros ($1.34 billion). EU ProSun Glass, led by GMB Glasmanufaktur Brandenburg GmbH,
has filed ananti-dumping complaint with the European Commission
against Chinese solar glass manufacturers exporting product to Europe.
This is being protested against by AFASE whose argument
is the imposition of anti-dumping and or countervailing duties
will severely hamper the growth of solar energy in the EU
to the detriment of the entire EU solar PV value chain and
without significant positive effect for the EU solar producers.
The EU is the most important market as Europe has been entering maturity and is likely to account for 35% of total global installations in 2013, according to Digitimes Research.
On a positive note The UK Government has introduced a new programme to help renewable energy investors to commission and develop low-carbon electricity projects at a faster rate.
To qualify for participation in the programme, applicants should ensure that their project has an expected nameplate capacity of 50MW or greater, or in the case of UK offshore wind projects, 100MW or greater capacity.
Applicants must also satisfy DECC with credible plans to progress with their project, in order to start electricity generation between 2014/15 and 2018/19.
The government intends to award investment contracts to successful applicants this autumn, based on the draft strike prices and contract terms that are scheduled to be released in the summer.
said the new programme would help to stimulate low-carbon investment and create green jobs.
“We want to give investors and project developers across low-carbon technologies as much certainty as we can, as early as we can,” Davey said.
“That’s why we are launching a process that will enable investment decisions to be taken before changes to the electricity market come into effect, ensuring that renewable electricity projects can get built, bring investment and jobs.”
For those of us who cannot quite comprehend what a MW looks like, let alone how we get all the inverters in a van we can also look at more down to earth news for the UK domestic market.
DECC report on weekly installation saw a positive climb last week 3 March and a slight fall to 10 March but we should be pleased to see 7MW in domestic PV installed in one week and do take a look at the figures here for yourself.
We will see two distinct groups forming with Solar PV and EU anti-dumping and we will report both sides as best we can.
Sorry to point out what you already know as prices for PV take a hike up and Poly stocks seem to fall low it might be time to advantage of collective ordering call 0845 055 8203 and we will broker the best deal in town for installers.
If you are a creditworthy installation company with two years profitable accounts I’m pleased to announce that you could raise cash to buy in quantity with our new Peer2Peer lending scheme from our brand Mercantile Investors,who can finance business expansion for established MCS installers at great rates and organise loans for clients of any installer offering renewable energy equipent to business and farminmg
Take heart, Solarpreneurs. We have a bright future ahead and tough times only shake the loose apples off of the tree. Hang on!
See you at the top,
Direct dial 01886 880088
Energy Conservation Centre
Telephone 0845 055 8203
P.S. We have collected names from people we have met at EcoBuild or done business with in the past and if by error we sent this to you by mistake then please unsubscribe and you will not hear from us by email again
Energy Bill, Free Holiday Accomodation, Different Products ahead and all for 2013
As we managed to confound property owners with DECC’s tri-monthly capacity triggers it showed with miserable numbers for the solar industry in October and installation levels are bang on track to fall below the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) stated capacity triggers, this will probably result in no tariffs being digressed in January with figures released by DECC showing that the capacity installed from August to October falls below the government’s target range in all three tariff bands.
Should you weave your way through the DECC website you would discover 4000 MCS installers managed 70MW of 0-10kW scale Solar PV installed from August 5- October 28. My estimate this figure is somewhere short of the 100MW threshold required to trigger a 3.5 percent digression and 57% lower than the total installed in May, June and July this year. We probably agree this is something we might have forecast with all the press (much created by our fellow colleagues taking DECC to court) badly making our customers lose with whole system for FiT’s. Whilst we also know Solar PV costs have fallen so fast that they are still economic at the greatest ROI seen. Confusing buyers is no the way to success as domestic installations for the three-month period total led about 70MW and we installed this (collectively) in a single week this time last year. Since the feed-in tariffs were introduced 2½ years ago, there have been five major consultations and reviews; and tariffs have been cut on four different occasions.
The original vision was that the FiTs would be straightforward, predictable and stable; making it suitable for the average consumer. But the increasing plethora of different tariff bands and the complex digression mechanism have made it ever less comprehensible. “The final installation figures for August to October should be confirmed by DECC within the next few weeks.perhaps it might be agreed that this tri-monthly digression scheme is too complicated for consumers to understand.
Along with FiT’s & ROC’s we should keep an eye open for news about the Energy Bill and decide for ourselves if we should prepare for the Solar PV boom some expect to start soon Energy Bill News With the wrong green noise at DECC many wondered what the Energy Bill meant to our future Following the most recent news :
Can we now say we are in the right place at the right time?
Could this new Energy Bill demonstrates rock solid support across Government for renewable energy?
Is it too much to give our industry exactly the kind of assurance we’ve been calling for?
To simplify the new Energy Bill
We look to answer 3 questions What is it ? How will it work? Can my company benefit?
A new Energy Bill is ready to go after two years of preparation but busy installers and distributors would not have time to examine every scheme DECC comes up with so for an overview I wanted to answer the 3 basic questions above and then you can decide if you need to read all the detail before pointing your business compass in a new direction or keeping on the same course you already chartered. What is it? To encourage the needful humongous amount of wind turbines, solar panels and electricity storage, investors will get a guaranteed, attractive, long-term price for the electricity they produce
The idea is to see investment in renewable energy double & treble to almost £10 billion by 2021, meaning the final end of coal-powered generation. UK government will be (they say) supporting low carbon electricity to the tune of £9.8 billion which in today’s money is £7.6bn by 2021, this is over three times the current level of £2.2 billion budgeted for next year. Our Carbon Capture and Storage Association, and Renewable UK are fully behind this as the total budget comes to a huge £110 billion to fuel a whole new ‘green rush’ by giving certainty for investors to unlock billions in investment in low carbon generation.
Should we get through this without David Cameron’s team making a U turn it will enable the UK to meet its energy security and climate change targets,create thousands of jobs, make installers and distributors of renewable energy equipment very busy. When asked Ray Noble of Solar Trade Association said the Bill means that “solar power will be massive” and called for a dedicated strategy for PV, “like gas”. Announcing the Bill in Parliament, energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, said: “The Bill will support the construction of a diverse mix of renewables, new nuclear, gas and CCS, protecting our economy from energy shortfalls. It will stimulate supply chains and support jobs in every part of the country, capitalising on our engineering prowess and our natural resources, cementing the UK’s place at the forefront of clean energy development.”
The push for low carbon electricity will add £95 a year to the average household bill by 2020, an increase of 7%. How will it work? Not popular with all is the fact it generates cash for Nuclear Power Generators.You might be surprised to see an Energy Bill offering massive public subsidies to anyone willing to build new nuclear reactors as the Lib/Con coalition pledged not to fund or subsidise nuclear power and after the meltdown in Japan it still amazes me that the money is not placed 100% into the more popular renewable energy sector. Much of the support is expected to stem from (brace yourself for even more new acronyms) Contracts for Difference (CfD) which will guarantee stable revenues for investors in clean energy. As you are aware we are all presently offering clients support for low-carbon generation that is provided through mechanisms such as the Renewables Obligation or Feed-in Tariffs. Without any support we will hardly make any sales or installations as the current costs of production for low-carbon electricity is a lot more expensive than electricity produced from fossil fuels. Without subsidy we sell virtually nothing as an investors’ ability to recover those costs is too low and they have little or no incentive to invest in the first place.
However, when the market price rises and low-carbon generators are able to charge in a way that allows them to cover their costs without support, one-way mechanisms such as the Renewable Obligation and Feed-in Tariffs have the potential to provide the generator with a windfall benefit. FiT CfDs are intended to remove the potential for windfall benefits while retaining the level of support necessary to make low-carbon investment viable. The Feed-in Tariff element of the package “tops-up” any shortfall between the amount the generator receives per unit of electricity and a pre-defined “strike price” in the long-term Contract for Difference. Once the strike price is exceeded, the generator is required to pay the surplus back. The result is that generators neither suffer nor benefit from price volatility as illustrated below: Should the market price of electricity fall below a specified strike price a new government owned company will act as a single counterparty to the CfDs which is good as it is to provide a revenue support structure for low-carbon generators. The new body will have levy-raising powers so it can raise funds from suppliers to meet its costs, which will include payments to generators.
Also Ed Davey had to keep George Osborne ( Chancellor of the Exchequer), happy following his non belief in the facts & figures (perhaps numbers are not his thing) of Climate Change, his disdain for the government’s expensive environmental policy and his love of gas. They seem to have included gas as renewable energy which frankly (my opinion only) undermines making the claim of being ‘greenest government ever’ a farce as they really cannot tell a global warming fossil fuel from renewable energy with this gas inclusion allowed As they launched it was said that you will see encouragement for investors to build gas-fired power plants to provide backup for when wind farms are not generating.
The System Operator (National Grid) will decide the level of generation capacity it judges is appropriate and then contract for it through an auction four years in advance. While the UK seeks an 80% reduction in carbon levels by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels), its demand for electricity is expected to double in the same time-frame. Consumers, meanwhile, are intolerant of price rises despite the £200 billion investment required in generation and transmission capacity in order to meet demand and decarbonisation requirements.
A revolution is -therefore required as 20% of UK electricity-generating capacity shuts down over the next few years. I expect many old nuclear and dirty coal-fired power stations will those to go which is marvellous. Not all roses but should help us make sales is the news from the energy industry’s regulator Ofgem who are saying will have power cuts by 2015 due to demand increasing as we could struggle to replace capacity that is on the increase. With recession and power outages it would be like stepping back to the 1970’s!
The positive is that Britain is committed to getting as much as 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, so installers and suppliers will be busy. Without full policy on decarbonisation the Energy Bill does not put emissions reduction at the heart of the UK’s energy policy and is seen by some as a grand compromise. This could be shorter term fixing rather than a legacy for our future.
Can my company benefit? As the tables turned on the industry like a spinning top we some Solarpreneurs stumble in 2012. Not through mismanagement as a business operators fault but they scaled up when DECC wanted all to scale down. If you just took on new premises, more staff, financed a new fleet, filled your warehouse with containers of .60p per watt modules and could get into new markets then well done…..for many it was the end. Some Solarpreneurs left to do something else but that is probably good as many of those came in for the right reasons. Some restructured and have comeback and others scraped by. I take my hat off to those who switched with speed into commercial and grew in 2012 as that was one smart move.
The challenges came as large commercial project investors got a little nervous following another botched switch with the ROC banding consultation situation, when DECC consulted on a ROC level that their own impact assessment told them may deliver zero large-scale PV to 2016.
Now DECC are serious about promoting investor certainty and with a Solar PV module having fallen to a record low we can beat wind with solar and we can all be instrumental in making a significant contribution to the 2020 renewables target. Back in the first week in July the installers of Solar PV found it hard to place Power Purchase Agreements at good prices as RO was coming to an end and the market was nervous. I expect we will see higher returns for RO from DECC on roof mounted Solar PV and I hope we will be first to market with sub-50KW PPA agreements. Imagine being to offer every business with an appropriate rooftop the chance to buy power at 50% of the current price and the property owner invests zero!! An investor will pay for the installation and sell the power to the building occupier with a great big discount. Prepare to see this coming in the future as it is the only way to get fast deployment of Solar PV. I expect an installer can plan to create 100 10KW + systems every month at smaller margins but with a huge flow of work and we now know that we can stretch to install huge amounts after seeing activity of exactly 12 months ago. Should this not happen as 10KW + commercial PPA’s I will be surprised but our other sales aid is finance, if Ofgem threaten power cuts this could ruin many businesses who might look at PV in a power storage situation to ensure they stay open whilst the competitors have the lights off. Or they will have no power, while their competitors have PV and take all the market share!
By launch we should confirm the CfD structure is also beneficial to large-scale solar development as a replacement for an outgoing RO scheme. A CfD structure will also remove volatility for investors and lenders of these projects and that fantastic for those financing, buying and selling these Solar PV assets. We know that financing most renewable energy equipment has been very easy when compared to Solar PV which infuriates all parties as we try and place it with a lender at reasonable rates Now we must tread water as we wait for further specifics to be unveiled with a strike price for solar and other renewable technologies Let’s all get ready for a solar industry that can now focus on the imminent publication of the RO banding rate for large-scale solar. Once the this RO rate is known, industry will be able to enjoy a period of unprecedented foresight and stability. Meanwhile get ready for expansion in the short term with heat pumps, solar thermal and thermodynamics. I know of many market leaders getting MCS in place with all the above, and you could be amongst the first to install something special that the UK has never seen before.
Just as PPA power purchase has been great at deployment I expect we are going to see much more HPA heat purchase agreements hitting the market In summary, the proposals are: the introduction of Feed-in Tariffs with Contracts for Difference (FiT CfD), to replace existing subsidies and incentives such as the Renewables Obligation the introduction of a Carbon Price Floor (CPF) to provide a clearer, long-term investment signal for low-carbon generation by putting a firm price on carbon emissions the introduction of an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) – an annual limit on carbon emissions of 450g CO2/kWh to reinforce the requirement that no new coal-fired power stations are built without Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) the introduction of a new capacity mechanism either through a Capacity Market or a Strategic Reserve, where generation capacity is procured by a central body and removed from the energy market and for use in certain circumstances. When will FiT CfD’s replace ROC’s? DECC’s intention is for FiT CfDs to replace the Renewables Obligation from 31 March 2017 for new developments.
Developers will have the option between 31 March 2014 and 31 March 2017 to remain with the Renewables Obligation or to adopt the new approach. For those projects which receive support under the Renewables Obligation the calculation of the support will, subject to the separate ROC rebanding exercise currently underway, remain the same. This grandfathering of support means that the Renewables Obligation will not extend beyond 2037. Depending on how the FiT CfDs and grandfathering arrangements are implemented, change in law provisions may be triggered in existing power purchase arrangements.
Carbon Price Floor
The Carbon Price Floor was announced as part of the Budget in 2011, and so strictly speaking it is not part of the Electricity Market Reform package. However, it is so intimately related to the functioning of the market that they should be considered together. The plans, which are subject to confirmation in the 2012 Budget are for the carbon price payable by UK based entities to be subject to a base of £16 per tonne of CO2 (/tCO2) increasing to £30/tCO2 by 2020.
The price floor would mean that the levels of actual price support are predicted to be £4.94/tCO2 in 2013, £7.28/tCO2 in 2014-15 and £9.86/tCO2 in 2015-16. These are subject to confirmation in the Budget in 2012. The support under the price floor regime is to be treated as fiscal spending and so will count as Government Spending in the annual budget setting process. The Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) The White Paper includes proposals for a new constraint on carbon emissions from fossil fuel generation plant. The EPS would require all new generation plant to have carbon emissions lower than 450gCO2 per kilowatt hour (/KWh). Such a level would prevent coal fired generation which did not have Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) capability from being built. In addition, our understanding is that it would also prevent open gas cycle gas fired plant (OCGT) from being constructed; closed cycle gas turbine plant (CCGT) would remain unaffected by the constraints All great to see a long term plan but we could focus on what to do in a free fall of margin at this time of year and early next year.
At the risk of being a bore and saying cutting prices and margins is for idiots unless you gear up for huge amounts of work you could face bankruptcy when you could just test the water with an alternative during these hard times. To make the difference installers need to be different in order to survive. You will be right to say it easy to write it but much harder to implement and I agree as if it was easy we will all be differentiating ourselves from our competitors. The sales pitch is a panel is a panel!
This pitch is to easy when we probably sold a 4KwP system in 2011 for £12,000 and now it is possibly £6,000 in a price war in the UK solar market. A 4kWp system installed in April The current sales pitch price driven and that is fine to headline and get in front of people but once with client use this cheap as chips entry as a bouncer with two other options and these other are sold on 20 years of maximum performance.
If you price one top product at £18,000 one bouncer at £6,000, a medium price one in the middle and give the quote for all three to the property owner some will spend more than you think… the question is how many and how much. To make this work you need something the BIG shed trade merchants and large PV distributors don’t have. This means no direct price comparison can be made.
We all gained our PV experience based on pitching return on investment percentages instead of kilowatt-hours generated. The pitfall of such a tactic is that, in order to compete with the big boys, solar installers are turning to cheap, previously ignored brands. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these panels, often they are manufactured by small companies with no trading history backed by some unknown warranty.
Why does this matter? If you’re offering customers a cheap ‘brandless’ solar module with a 10-year warranty, how can you be sure that in this dodgy market that saw 50% of manufacturers in China close down in 2011 and will possibly see another 50% close over the next 12 month it is hard to spot a company who will stick around long enough to honour the warranty? When your customers return to you looking for a replacement under warranty you are liable. The risk involved in pursuing this business model for the smaller solar installer is too great. Not only are you going straight up against the market leaders (who can harness massive economies of scale to drive down supply costs) but you are leaving yourself open to future headaches by turning to price driven products to compete. We believe the quality of the products are going to be paramount, then learning to make a long comprehensive demonstration based on the features, benefits and true financial cost will make all the difference in 2013.
I will present you with a knock out high quality module that has just completed a fourth quarter on top of the TUV test centre, this company placed its Poly against some of the best know Mono panels and came up tops. On some of the modules offered they have 100% EU components in factories run 24/7 on renewable energy and have a special story to be that very top priced product Secondly we will fit in a middle range product with some unique selling points and have a producer who will do a direct mailshot offering overseas holiday accommodation to all the clients who paid for Solar PV from you in the past and they will offer 3 weeks holiday accommodation to be taken over the next 36 months if one of your customers makes a referral and buys the products off this company. To see how it works you should get a mailshot to your official MCS person with a holiday accommodation offer for you and your family to try before sending out your clients in 2013. Look out for our 2013 mailshot!
We are also taking Thermodynamic to market with WRAS and MCS being done now. Geothermal for district heating is set to be huge and we have a world leader ready to supply the UK from the USA head office in Oklahoma. To top the range off we will have some very high performance Solar Thermal. All designed by a British company for the German market.
It will be sold to very carefully selected and trained dealers. Applications are being taken from the best installers or smaller regional distributors who can help with our competence levels of customer service which aim to differentiate from those who cut corners to sell on price alone. All the above and a weeks holiday accommodation. The family will be happy!
Take heart, Solarpreneurs. We have a bright future ahead and tough times only shake the loose apples off of the tree.
Progress on support for renewable heat hots up today with the publication of three consultations on the Coalition’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI). The RHI, the first of its kind in the world, was launched for the non domestic sector in November last year, with a scheme for householders intended to open in Summer 2013.
RENEWABLE HEAT INCENTIVE FOR HOUSEHOLDERS
Proposals on long term support for householders who install renewable heating kit such as biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal in their homes across the nation have been published for consultation today. The RHI for householders, to be managed by Ofgem, is aimed at any householder looking to replace their current heating with renewable heating kit or householders who have installed any such technology since 15 July 2009. It is intended that householders will get paid for the heat expected to be produced by their installed technology.
Key proposals in the consultation include:
Indicative tariff ranges for air source heat pumps (6.9-11.5p/kWh), biomass boilers (5.2-8.7p/kWh), ground source heat pumps (12.5-17.3p/kWh) and solar thermal technologies (17.3p/kWh) that are MCS certified and meet relevant required standards
Payments for householders over seven years for each kWh of heat produced for the expected lifetime of the renewable technology and based on deemed heat usage
Tariff levels set to provide a better return for householders living off the gas grid
Budget management system similar to one introduced for the Feed-in Tariffs scheme
Minimum energy efficiency requirements based on Green Deal assessments
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:
“We need to revolutionise the way we heat our homes and businesses and move away from expensive fossil fuels, not only to cut carbon but to help meet our renewables targets and save money on bills.
“Our proposals aim to encourage even more uptake of clean green heating in industry and in our businesses. We have also set out our views on long term support for those who invest in low carbon kit in their homes and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.”
The closing date for this consultation is 7 December 2012.
There is already cash available for renewable heat for householders under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme, set to run until March 2013. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has recently announced the winners of the RHPP Social Landlord Phase 2 ‘Top up’ competition and confirmed the list of community groups through to the next stage of the RHPP communities competition.
RENEWABLE HEAT INCENTIVE FOR COMMERCIAL, INDUSTRIAL AND COMMUNITY CUSTOMERS
DECC has today published two consultations on expanding the RHI scheme for commercial, industrial and community customers to increase uptake of renewable heating kit in this sector.
The first consultation looks at the broader expansion of the scheme and closes on 7 December 2012. The second consultation focuses on air to water heat pumps and energy from waste and closes on 18 October 2012.
Key proposals to expand the scheme include:
Inclusion of heating only Air to Air heat pumps with a proposed tariff of 0.97p/kWh for all sizes of installation
Inclusion of Air to Water heat pumps with a proposed tariff of 1.7p/kWh for all sizes of installation
Inclusion of biomass direct air heaters with a proposed tariff of 2.1p/kWh under 1MW and 1p/kWh over 1MW
Extension of biogas combustion tariffs to installations over 200kW
Introduction of a specific tariff for heat from biomass CHP of a proposed 4.1pkWh
Introduction of bioliquid CHP tariff of 4.1p/kWh
Increased tariff for deep geothermal installations from 3.4 p/kWh to 5p/kWh
Increased range of waste feedstocks eligible for support
Minimum energy efficiency requirements for district heating, commercial and industrial space and water heating
Continuation of exclusion of reversible Air to Air heat pumps from the scheme
DECC will be running a number of events across the country to provide opportunities to ask questions about the consultations and feed in ideas. Further details on these events, including how to register, will be published on the DECC website shortly.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
There are a number of areas in the consultations on which evidence and views are sought. These are likely to affect the level of subsidy and the final make up of the scheme. Investment decisions should therefore not made on the assumption that these proposals will not change.