A brief overview into the government incentives behind renewable energy.

Feed in tarriffs or FITs are government incentives designed to encourage individuals to invest in renewable energy. All feed in tarriffs are organised and allocated by the Microgeneration and Certification Scheme or MCS. They allocate tarriff rates to certain technologies. They certify both products and installers. They approve individual installations. In short if they approve it, you will be eligible for a feed in tarriff. If not, you will get nothing paid back to you. A list of approved products ad installers can be found on the MCS website. The amount paid to the consumer is dependent on the amount of energy generated. There is a rate for energy generated and used by the consumer and a reduced rate for any energy left over and exported to the grid. This export rate is of course not relevant in an off grid application. The rate also depends on how the renewable energy is generated. For instance there is a different FIT rate for solar energy to that of wind or combined heat and power (CHP). To further confuse matters, this rate changes according to the total amount of renewable energy generated by this technology nationwide. This means that as more people take up the, say, solar tarriff, the more that tarriff is reduced and thereforfe the less attractive to the conumer they may be. The actual rates are not on these pages becaue they change so often but the up to date tarriff can be found on the Energy Saving Trusts's website.

To be eligible for FITs , first your property should pass certain criteria on efficiency. Secondly you need to use a specific model of equipment that has been certified by the MCS. Furthermore, you need to use an installer who is certified by the MCS and also complies to the REAL code. This accreditation process is a very time consuming and expensive procedure for both the manufacturer and also the installer.

What this all means for the consumer is that if you want to be eligible for FITs the chances are the set up cost will be considerably more expensive. The enitre process will have involved a lot of people jumping through a lot of hoops, so to speak. Our advice would be, have a good hard look at exactly what you are aiming to achieve. If this is in accordance with an already certified technology then the feed in tarriffs are worth chasing. If you are looking for something slightly different, it may not be worth the additional expense of jumping through those hoops.

Wind is a particularly difficult application. Although there is currently a high FIT rate of 21p per unit, compared with the current solar rate of 15.4p, the only turbines the manufacturers can afford to put through the lengthy certification process are the large models. The smallest accredited turbine currently on the market is 3.0 KW. All the others are 5KW and bigger. As an example to the above if you and your property can utilise say, 5KW  at any time of day or night, it might be worthwhile investigating the wind option. If  your house or lifestyle does not need that amount of energy, a smaller non certified model will be the most cost effective option.

We work closely with Lochaber Renewables to provide MCS certified solar installations. All our MCS paperwork is in place for wind, hydro or CHP and we are waiting for a practical project requiring approval to come up. If you are willing to work with us on a MCS project it would be an inexpensive way to access the FITs.

With all these pitfalls, it is easy to make a mistake and spend a great deal of money unnecessarily. We would be happy to advise on the best options for you. Please get in touch for unbiased help on any of these issues.

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Alternative Engineering Solutions