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Feed-in Tariffs subsidy to be cut by more than half

Category: News October 31st, 2011 by mbc

Looks like the out-break of PV panels scaling up the roofs of my neighbours houses may be facing a hurdle to further progress. As reported late last week in the Guardian ‘the [subsidy] rate will be reduced from 43.3p per kilowatt hour of solar electricity to just 21p’. This information was contained in a PDF file on the Energy Saving Trust website that seems to have been leaked published prematurely and was removed shortly after publication.

The current subsidy rates will last until at least the 8th of December – so if you’re thinking of getting panels installed, the time for dithering is over…

I’m in two minds about FITs – on one hand PV is a technology I admire, fully support and would like to be able to afford to implement, on the other hand the subsidy scheme and specifically the companies milking it are abhorrent to me. There must be a better way to encourage the take-up of PV? – Perhaps, a subsidy on the panels themselves paid to British manufacturers followed by fixed, fairly price installation?

UPDATE: It has been confirmed that from the 12th of December the rate will be cut to 21p. There’s an informative article (and readable discussion) on the Guardian website.

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Feed-in Tariffs

Category: Essential information September 27th, 2010 by mbc

Whilst I have no immediate plans (or money) to install any electricity generation technology at the barn, I like to keep an eye on future opportunities and thought a review of Feed-in Tariffs may be in order.

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme has been available through electricity suppliers since April the 1st 2010. The aim of the scheme is to encourage the uptake of small-scale (up to 5MW) low carbon generation technologies through tariff payments made on both generation and export of produced renewable energy. The scheme is designed with the goal of providing a monthly income from your installation that will be greater than your monthly loan repayment to install the equipment (bear in mind this factors in long term loans usually of 20-25 years). It is the large energy companies, (or rather their customers to whom they pass the costs on) rather than any government body that foot the bills for these systems.

The following technologies are eligible for entry to the scheme:

Photovoltaic (PV)
Wind
Hydroelectric
Anaerobic digestion
Micro CHP – this is a pilot programme with 2kW upper limit to generating capacity.

The financial benefits of the scheme come in a number of forms:

The Generation Tariff - you earn a fixed amount for each kilowatt hour of electricity (kWh) you generate and use.
The Export Tariff – you earn an additional fixed amount for every kWh of electricity you generate and sell back to the grid.
Savings made through the reduction in electricity bills.

The exact amount you get paid through the Generation Tariff will vary depending on your specific generation system. For example, a new Solar PV system generating four or less kWh is eligible for a payment of 36.1 pence per kWh, for a medium-large sized wind turbine (>15 – 100kW) the payment is 24.1 pence per kWh. The tariff levels are index-linked for inflation and will be paid for a set period of time – in the case of the examples, 25 years and 20 years respectively. The full table of tariff levels is available from the Energy Savings Trust website in PDF format.

There are plenty of example scenarios with tempting £’s value headlines around the web, I’ll leave it to you to search them out if you’re interested. There are also plenty of online calculators out there to tempt you in and hopefully further inform you – start with the one on energysavingtrust.org.uk, the link is below. But, to summarise what I’ve found, typically for a family home consuming 4-5,000kWh of electricity per year, 2-2.5kW of solar PV panels will generate an income for the householder of upto £1000 per year with around £150 in savings from reduced electricity costs.

Bear in mind that you’ll need to work with a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified installer to be eligible for the scheme.

Futher references:

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Sustainability/Environment/fits/Pages/fits.aspx

http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your-own-energy/Sell-your-own-energy/Feed-in-Tariff-scheme

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Build in Technology

Category: Conversion Design Advice August 23rd, 2010 by mbc

Whatever the original structure, a conversion means major building work.

Take the opportunity to build in major renewable technologies – PV, solar hot water, rain-water harvesting head my list. Invest now for sustainability and low bills.

Snippets on MBC

Rather than my usual wordy ramblings I thought I’d challenge myself to come up with some short gems of (throw-away) advice on how I think you should go about a conversion… Snippets …this is one!

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Photovoltaics

Category: Systems of interest April 21st, 2008 by mbc

Photo = light & voltaic = electricity

Photovoltaics is a technology that utilises light to generate electricity. As such it is an essential tool in the development of more sustainable methods of electricity generation. Simplistically, electricity is generated by the photons from sunlight colliding with electrons within the solar cell.

Solar cells are solid state devices that produce direct current electricity from light. They are arranged into interconnected groups to form a module. In turn photovoltaic (PV) modules are connected together into photovoltaic arrays. A module is big enough to power a single device with larger applications such as a family home requiring an array. PV arrays can be built into the fabric of a building, in its roof or walls, or developed as a stand-alone system as we see connected to street lights or on caravans.

PV cells use both direct light and indirect or diffuse light and so are effective even in temperate climates and operate under grey overcast skies, not just on bright sunny days.

As in most cases they constructed largely from silicon, the manufacture of PV modules has relatively green credentials, although the need for batteries for storage in off grid situations can somewhat sour this.

Most UK implementations of PV will be grid connected PV systems. In these systems there is no need for battery storage. The PV system is connected to the local electricity network (grid) and any electricity not consumed locally can be sold to the electricity supply company. Where the local PV system is unable to provide all electricity demanded, for example at night, then electricity is bought from the grid. The ‘grid’ acts as the storage system.

One of the leaders in the new thin film technology that allows cells to be printed on a aluminium film at low cost is based in Wales just like MBC!
The company is G24 Innovations who have a fabrication plant in Cardiff.

An inverter will be required to convert the low voltage (12 volt) DC electricity generated by PV to high voltage (230 volt) alternating current (AC) consumed by most UK appliances.

How much?
A typical domestic system will need between 1500 and 2000 Watts peak (Wp)
Typical modules have power output of 75 to 120 Wp.
Therefore, 10 to 20+ modules will be required.

I have ‘tirelessly’ searched the internet for illustrative costs from various sites and articles of various ages I’ve come up with the following prices each from an individual source:

£4,000 to £9,000 per kWp installed.

£8,000 and £15,000 on a typical domestic installation of 1.5 kW.

…this works out at £12 000 – £14 000 for a 2 kWp system for a house.

To provide a PV power supply capable of meeting the demand from a typical domestic energy efficient house costs in the region of £20,000.

…costs can be around £5,000- £8,000 per kWp installed with most domestic systems usually between 1.5 and 3 kWp.

Which gives an average of somewhere around £6,000 per kW so £10,000 for a typical domestic installation of 1.5 kW. As this will save you several hundred pounds a year on electricity costs the financial payback is long. The overall cost-benefit will only tip into the positive if you personally value the ecological benefits highly.

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Progress

Autumn 2013

Right that’s the summer over with, now I can get on with some real work without the distractions of other things (like holidays and playing with children, all that enjoyable stuff that gets in the way of progress)… With few major jobs (painting, boxing in – nasty stuff!) left inside, mainly fiddly things that need […]

I’m having a moan on twitter… https://twitter.com/barnconversion/status/368427314868396032

A lovely Flemish barn conversion

I love the interior of this conversion and the great use of horizontal slats on this conversion. I retains the essential ‘barnyness’ of the building… flemish-barn-by-arend-groenewegen-architect

Coming soon, my barn conversion guide… Interesting earthship greenhouse project on Kickstarter

I really like this Kickstarter project >> The Farm of the Future: Earthship-Inspired Greenhouse This project is “Prototyping the First 100% Off-The-Grid, Affordable, Low-Maintenance Greenhouse using Earthship Principles and Aquaponics“. If any of those words meaning anything to you you’ll be interested in the project if not, pass it by… It’s already funded so I […]

Barns

Barns Gallery on Remodelista

There is a lovely gallery of barn related inspirational photographs available on Remodelista.

Barns – the Long House

Situated on the North Norfolk coast, this is a building to admire…

Barns – the Balancing Barn

A stunning piece of architecture, although not entirely to my taste…

New fast-track planning permission for the development of barns proposed

The Daily Mail reports on a new fast-track route through planning controls for the conversion of barns…

De-assembled, re-assembled, re-cycled barns

“A bit like a private sector, modernising, repurposing St Fagan’s…”

Design

What is a shadow gap?

A shadow gap – a mysterious dark place between two plains…

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

Architecture

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

The 2012 Stirling prize was won by a outsider, the Sainsbury Laboratory…

The Stirling prize 2012

I think that this years Stirling prize has some exciting projects on the shortlist…

Our engineers … our architects – Le Corbusier

The efficient, shiny world of construction in 1923…

Design in Storage

When designing a layout it’s easy to forget to plan for storage…

News

Green Deal slow beginnings?

Oh dear! The green deal hasn’t got off to a very auspicious start… As reported in the Telegraph today since it was launched nearly a year ago just 12 homes have taken advantage of the Green Deal with a few hundred more in the pipeline. 71,210 households had been assessed for Green Deal measures such […]

The property roller coaster – planning reform to be rethought

Eric Pickles vague compromise on planning reform keeps the house happy (for now).

Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example… It’s reported today that the […]

Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on the green belt…

Green Deal Launch

The Green deal launched in the UK on Monday of this week. Fanfares? fireworks? a deluge of marketing? … read more …

Plaid Cymru’s Green New Deal promise

The leader of Plaid Cymru has promised a “Green New Deal” to rejuvenate the Welsh economy and help maintain Wales’ position at the forefront of Green policies.

Permitted development extension limits to be doubled

The government is due to announce a temporary increase in the maximum depth of extensions that can be built under permitted development rules.

Lloyd Khan, making shelter simple.

I wanted to share an interview with Lloyd Khan that I recently found…

Just what is ‘sustainable development’?

Sustainable development – with the term now enshrined in planning law, what does it mean?

Sir Patrick Abercrombie – “It is a matter for serious thought…”

While reading up on the response of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) I came across this quote from Sir Patrick Abercrombie…