Solar not fit for subsidy

From industry publications to national press, the Government's decision to reduce subsidies for solar panels on homes has generated wide coverage and condemnation over the government's rushed attempt to stem the increasing number of solar installations. The industry has pointed to a resulting risk to thousands of jobs, damage to the whole industry, and "huge economic uncertainty". The recent challenge by Friends of the Earth and two solar companies, Solarcentury and HomeSun, has culminated in the High Court ruling that the decision was ruled "legally flawed".

While we have heard many arguments against the Government’s action, some in the industry have put forward a different point of view, suggesting that, while the Government’s handling was clumsy, the funding could indeed be better used to achieve more widespread energy saving measures for householders with no subsidies required.

In his blog for HVR Magazine, consultant Mike Malina writes: “The problem with this [solar PV funding] is it’s not equal and those at the poorer end of society see few of the benefits…
“Gimmicks to provide a bit more ‘green bling’ have negatively impacted on areas where the money could have been spent, for example, providing more targeted lower carbon and energy saving measures like insulation, controls and making sure householders’ heating systems were set up correctly and re-commissioned for optimal performance.”
HVR Magazine editor Ian Vallely, commenting on the Feed-in Tariff, blogs: “The starting point should be reducing the demand for energy in the first place by fitting effective insulation (the Green Deal has an important part to play in this respect); next, use energy more efficiently; thirdly, supply energy from renewable sources; and finally, ensure that any continuing use of fossil fuels employs clean technologies and is as efficient as possible.”
This is reinforced by Mark Northcott, MD of Remeha Commercial, who argues in an article on Future Technologies in H&V News 14 December that “We live in a frugal economy where, despite our social and political responsibility to provide affordable food and fuel, in Europe the cost of fuel continues to spiral ever higher… In my view, it is essential that any low carbon and low NOx technology we use from now on is both affordable and replicable. It’s important too that when developing or producing new technology, we examine our fuel resources and use the fuel as cleanly as possible. Gas is still the cleanest fuel available, offering the shortest payback and cheapest installation costs, allowing us to fulfill our responsibility to provide affordable energy…
“Renewables are an important part of the mix, but it is important that this technology should be truly sustainable both environmentally and financially. Technology that relies on Government grants is almost certainly doomed to failure.”
All these industry experts argue for improved energy efficiency, for technologies that offer significant energy savings to householders and businesses to achieve our carbon reduction targets – and all this with a short financial payback.
The great news for householders is that what might sound like a future technology is in fact here already.
The GasSaver is a patented energy saving device that sits on top of your boiler and captures the heat otherwise lost from even high efficiency A-rated condensing boilers up the flue. It then uses this captured energy to help heat hot water for your home.
In real terms, it gives you a typical annual saving of 37% of the energy otherwise required to deliver hot water. Or, to put it another way, the GasSaver delivers more usable hot water than a typical solar hot water system, just by extracting all the energy from the gas that you have already paid for.
Over the next 4 years it could save customers £1 billion in gas bills, reduce carbon emissions by 1 ¼ billion tonnes, reduce poverty, and save water as hot water arrives at the tap sooner.
The GasSaver is manufactured in the UK, recommended by the Energy Saving Trust, approved under the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS), recognised under the Government’s SAP scheme and can be used to count towards the energy rating of a dwelling.
A fitting New Year’s resolution would be to make this existing British technology standard in new boilers. It’s win win all round, after all.
— From Chris Farrell’s blog, The Green Entrepreneur
Chris Farrell’s Twitter is @ChrisFarrellZen

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