Tuesday, December 27, 2011

High Court ruling on PV FIT


27 Dec 2011: It seems that the (British) High Court found that the government were wrongful in pressing ahead with major changes to the Feed in Tariff without considering that the consultation process was not completed, and that the deadlines given have caused untold chaos in the solar installation industry.... and we should not forget some of the inevitable job losses or company closures.
Most people assume that Cameron and Osborne (who seems from his actions and sayings to have little regard for the 'Green' revolution) will just carry on regardless of the Court ruling, or of the effects on the Solar industry and customers. The minister is appealing against the ruling.

Why link to Insulation?
When this was first mooted, it was proposed that the higher tariff should apply to houses which meet an Energy Performance Certificate of level "C". Although this sounds at first sight like a good incentive, it reveals, at closer inspection to be just another form of discouragement, and favouring the well off.
   Energy Generation is a different matter from Energy Conservation, and both are excellent, but there is No Reason for them to be so tightly linked, or for one to exclude the other. Should we also make a law that "Only houses with PV panels should be Insulated"? Of course not. That demonstrates the absurdity of the current proposal that "Only houses with Insulation should have PV panels". There are other ways to incentivise insulation, and these are being done.
  Society needs Energy, so why should we not encourage panels to be fixed on garages, barns and old houses that are not easy to insulate? In the same way, there are many buildings than can and should be insulated, but because of chimneys, dormers, trees or hips, they cannot be adapted for photovoltaic. 
    It can cost more to insulate a house up to level C than to fix solar panels. This becomes a charter favouring the rich or the owner occupier, because it requires an expensive operation on the house first, and perhaps a season's delay. 
   What does it do for social housing (especially of older dwellings)? A quick one or two day installation of panels can reduce future fuel poverty for a whole street, but a programme of insulation of a whole street would mean a complex and expensive process of decanting tenants etc. with funds that the local authorities or housing associations do not have.

Payback thoughts
    It also makes nonsense of the "Payback" argument. It annoys me that people always ask about the Payback of PV when they don't ask the same thing of a change of car, of buying christmas presents, of going on holiday. "Payback" with Insulation is much harder. For me, it is an obvious benefit, in the immediate improvement in comfort levels. In terms of Payback, the reduction of heating bills could take many many years to pay back, and the big unknowns are the future of energy prices and how long you will live there - even more unknown than with PV.
   What about the cost of funding BOTH? If you have to fund BOTH insulation to level C AND a Photovoltaic roof.... then most people in older houses will be alienated from the whole process.

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