Since before April 2010 Going Solar have been at the forefront of designing and installing solar PV in the UK ranging from 4kWp domestic arrays right up to 500kWp projects.

The Feed in Tariff for Solar PV, which is paid per unit generated, has seldom been out of the news over the past five months as the government has sought to keep a lid on the future liability of the grant after the take up exceeded original predictions by 400% thus absorbing the grant allocation for the period of this government. Even at 21p per unit generated the returns to customers are surprisingly generous.

The other benefits of investing in a solar PV array are as follows:

Firstly any power that is generated by Solar PV is available for the customer to use on site for free, thus saving buying from the grid at 10-12p/ unit. Note, that it cannot be stored easily, so that means daytime use.

Secondly, any power not used by the customer on site will be bought by your power provider who will pay you 3.1p /unit. Some meters will also turn backwards! For installations under 30Kw,  you do not have to measure exported power, and they will pay you based on 50% of your generated power; so if you use more than 50%, you are winning twice over.

For a full breakdown on the latest picture on the Feed in tariffs for 2012 please refer to our news section.

Solar Energy is clean energy. To generate and deliver one kWh of grid electricity to your property requires the burning of 1 kg of coal. The typical domestic customer above will be reducing the amount of coal burnt each year by 3,400 kg.

Call us today for a free quote.

Where else can you get such a good return for you money, hedge against rising electricity prices and reduce your carbon footprint?


 
Frequently Asked Questions
   
  How does a solar panel work?
How does the Feed in tariff work?
Do all solar panel systems qualify?
How do we calculate the output from an installation?
Is Going Solar regulated in any way?
25 Years is a long time. Will the panels last that long?
Where does the power go when the panels generate it?
How do I receive the Feed in Tariff?
Are all Solar Panels the same?
Ground vs Roof
What ongoing support will I receive from Going Solar?
What about maintenance?
What does the installed cost include?
Aren't the panels too heavy to put on a metal roof?
Are some buildings better suited than others?
What about tenanted buildings?
Is planning permission needed?
Are there different ways of buying a system?
What about renting out my roof or some land?
What about tax?

How does a solar panel work?
Light shining on a solar panel creates an electric field across layers of silicon in each cell, causing electricity to flow. This DC power can either be stored in batteries in an off grid situation or more commonly converted to AC by an invertor and then used straight away or fed into the national grid. Photovoltaic cells were first developed by Bell Laboratories in 1954.
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How does the Feed in tariff work?
The government feed in tariffs (FiT) which started in April 2010 will pay up to 41.3p for every kWh generated from PV regardless of whether it is used by yourself or exported to the grid, for which they will pay you a further 3p/kWh; in addition, you will also save around 12p*/kWh by using your own electricity rather than buying it from your current supplier. *(varies depending on your supply agreement). The FiT is split into four bands of starting tariff depending on the size of your project ranging from 41.3p for small arrays to 29.3p for the very large. The bands are:

Up to 4kWp 41.3 p
From 4 to 10kwp 36.1p
From 10 to 100 kWp 31.4p
From 100 to 5MW 29.3p

Once you are contracted into the FiT scheme, you will receive the benefit of it, index-linked to RPI for 25 years and tax free to individuals for as much as they generate for themselves. As currently drawn up, the starting rate for the FiT is due to drop in April 2012, so any installations connected to the grid after that date will be less viable, although the downward trend in the price of panels will probably more than over compensate for this.
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Do all solar panel systems qualify?
Equipment and installers must be MCS approved if the scheme is to qualify for Feed-in Tariff payments up to a threshold of 50kWp. The scheme itself will be accredited by OFGEM, the electricity industry regulator, through its Renewable & CHP Register although projects > 5MW will not qualify for the FiT.
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How do we calculate the output from an installation?
In estimating the projected output of your proposed installation, we look up the irradiance information for your location on the EU web site (which is conservative in our experience), and then measure the panel mounting area, which gives us the number of panels which can be fitted; we then multiply the Watt output of each panel by the number of panels x the irradiance data for the given location per kWpeak of panels and take account of the orientation of the array and angle of the roof.
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Is Going Solar regulated in any way?
Our installation arm, EZ Solar, is MCS (government's Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accredited, and has been installing all types of renewable energy for 10 years and we take great pride in our reputation for quality and cost effective solutions. We are also members of the Solar Traders Association (STA). We can also provide customer references on request.
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25 Years is a long time. Will the panels last that long?
All our panels come with a 25 year performance guarantee and they are also approved by the government's Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). However,all PV panels will degrade over time. Our panel's guarantee state that the output will not drop by more than 10% in the first 20 years and by no more than 20% in the first 25 years.,
The tolerance on our panels is also always "plus Rated". This means that when delivered, they will be up to 5% greater output than specified (some panels are rated at +/-5% tolerance, so you could start off with an installation that is 5% smaller than you thought). The panels will carry on working for longer than 25 years; however, it is likely that in 25 years time, much more efficient panels will be available and the installation could be upgraded.
Invertors may not last the 25 years and may need to be replaced.
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Where does the power go when the panels generate it?
With the exception of an off grid system, the electricity from the PV panels is never stored, so it is either used by the customer or exported to the grid. A commercial customer's will match the daylight availability of solar energy to a large degree, which is optimal but there will be times when you are generating power which is not used. This is exported.
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How do I receive the Feed in Tariff?
When we install your system we will help with all the paperwork required to set you up as an approved electricity generator. We will register your system on the MCS database and provide you with an installed certificate to send to your utility company. They will then read your generation meter once or twice a year and pay you your feed in tariffs based upon the reading from this meter. They will also pay you the export tariff of 3p per unit exported.
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Are all Solar Panels the same?
There are basically two types of solar panels suitable for the Uk market, Monocrystaline and Polycrystaline. Monocrystaline are made up from whole pieces of silicon sliced into squares; polycrystaline are made up from all the offcuts from monocrystaline manufacture and appear as a continuous blue/black sheet. Typical efficiencies for monocrystaline panels are around 17% whereas for polycrystaline the efficiencies are around 13%. Monocrystaline will generate around 13% more electricity than the equivalent size Polycrystaline installation (figures sourced from the Energy Saving Trust). All PV panels should have a 25 year performance warranty but polycrystaline panels tend to have worse performance guarantees as they also tend to degrade faster than Monocrystaline panels. Hence, not only is their output worse in the initial years but it also tends to get even worse as time progresses. Polycrystaline are cheaper panels but, as with many things in life, you get what you pay for and we would only recommend fitting monocrystaline panels on small scale installations.
A third type of panel, thin film, will be available in the future but is not worth waiting for, for roof or ground mounted projects.
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Ground vs Roof
Roof is likely to be a little more expensive than a ground array due to scaffolding, health and safety and lifting etc. but there are advantages - the panels are located out of harm's way, for one thing, and will have less visual impact. Planning will be easier and security won't be an issue. On the other hand, if no suitable roof is available, then a ground mounted array is a viable option.
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What ongoing support will I receive from Going Solar?
We are one of the few renewable companies in the UK to offer genuine on-going support for our customers. From our experience in both domestic and large PV systems, the only way to be sure that your PV system is working to its maximum, is to have it regularly checked by having it photographed with a thermographic camera. We provide this service and the evidence for you to use to claim on the guarantee on the panel. For our own installations, if there is a panel fault, then we will handle the warranty claim for the panel. We also perform other checks on the system, including measuring the solar irradiance and comparing the output of the system to identify a shortfall. PV systems are the most reliable of all the renewable technologies and should last for many years but for the size of the investment, you want to ensure that you are maximising your return.
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What about maintenance?
PV modules do not need routine maintenance other than occasionally being cleaned, although if the panels are angled at 30 degrees or more, the rain will wash them clean. Inverters and control gear will typically need replacing every 10-15 years or so.
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What does the installed cost include?
The installed price covers all the costs of the installation including any scaffolding required, the PV panels, inverters, mounting frames, electrical isolation switches, a generation meter and installation into a new or existing fuse board. VAT is payable but only at 5%.
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Aren't the panels too heavy to put on a metal roof?
Including rails, panels add approx 15kg per sq m of static loading to a roof. Where panels are angled up off a roof to achieve 30 degrees plus, we will arrange for a wind loading structural support to be carried out. Most modern buildings have plenty of capacity to bear this load. It is possible to use lightweight panels without frames which can be glued onto metal roofs and they add only 8kg per m2 dead load to a roof.
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Are some buildings better suited than others?
They clearly need to be strong enough to take the weight of the installation. Also, given the long life of PV panels, buildings and their roofs should have a lifetime at least as long as the panels. Buildings with south facing pitches with 30degree pitches are optimal but most large sheds have 5 degree pitches and for the purposes of solar PV are deemed to be "flat". The panels would be raised up at 30degrees on frames to face 180 south where possible. If a large shed has a small electricity supply then this will need to be increased to take the generated power to the grid.
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What about tenanted buildings?
If you are the landlord of a tenanted building and you have retained responsibility for the maintenance of the building, then you have the opportunity to place an array on the roof and then sell the power to your tenant(s). If you are a tenant with an FRI lease of greater than 25 years, then, subject to any warranties on the building, you have the opportunity to benefit from a PV project for the life of the FiT. Where the above doesn't apply and the building is not owner occupied, then PV will be by agreement between parties.
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Is planning permission needed?
At present for commercial buildings, the answer is 'yes' but it is best to check with your local planning authority as some are happy to waive the requirement. The government's plan is that renewable energy micro-generation equipment installed on commercial buildings will be covered by Permitted Development rights (as is the case for most domestic installations) but this plan is still at the consultation stage. (November 2010). Planning permission is not required for ground mounted projects smaller than 9m2. (1.6kWp).
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Are there different ways of buying a system?
Going Solar are speaking to banks and providers of hire purchase and lease finance schemes with payments made over five or seven years. If a customer already has a good relationship with a lending bank then that should be the first call as the FiT's are designed to be bank-friendly.
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What about renting out my roof or some land?
Going Solar can arrange for a fund to rent your land or roof space for electricity generation and they take care of the capital investment involved and ongoing maintenance costs. Rent can be a flat payment or a share of returns or a combination of both. Alternatively, you can receive reduced-price electricity which will suit heavy power users.
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What about tax?
VAT is chargeable at 5% on installations.
Corporation tax applies to the Generation and Export tariffs income for commercial owners.
Individuals will not pay income tax on the tariffs provided that they can demonstrate that the power is for their own use.
As far as we can tell from HMRC web site, businesses can also benefit by claiming 100% capital allowances in the first year. (to be confirmed)

Export Tariff
Your Utility company is obliged to pay you 3p per unit for every unit that you export to the grid and this is index linked to RPI for the 25 year term of the FiT. However larger solar generators may benefit from higher export tariffs by opting out of this arrangement and finding a higher price in the open market
Warning; the information above is provided for information only and is believed to be correct at the time of writing but should not be relied on when entering a contract with Going Solar or your Utility company.
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Frequently Asked Questions
   
  Yes.
In February 2011, DECC announced a fast track review of the FiT for Solar PV <50kWp and a slow track review of solar PV <50kWp.

The timetable for the fast track review is as follows:
Consultation period ends 6th May 2011
Results of consultation laid before Parliament 9th June 2011

Changes to be implemented 1st August 2011

Main proposed changes

  FiT Band Old support New support
New band 50 - 99 kW 32.9p 19p
New band 100 - 149 kWp 30.7p 19p
New band 150 - 249 kWp 30.7p 15p
New band 250 - 5000 kWp 30.7p 8.5p

The timetable for the slow track review is:
Open consultation to close December 2011 
Changes to be announced early 2012

Changes to be implemented on 1st April 2012 

The Feed in tariffs are due to drop anyway from 1st April 2012 as follows

Size of Array New rate from April to end of March 2012 Starting rate for arrays connected after 31st March 2012
< 4 kWp 43.3p 37.8p
4 to 10 kWp 37.8p 33.0p
10 to 50 kWp 32.9p 28.7p

Our guess is that DECC will drop these bands even further, in line with their perception of panel price falls, from 1st April 2012