Archives for posts with tag: solar power

by Deborah Burley

The government recently unveiled plans to cut feed-in tariffs by 50% in the next six weeks. It means that those with plans to fit solar panels to their homes will have to do it by the 12 December or else will only receive about half of the rates.

It means contracts that have already been signed for solar panels are getting cancelled by those less than happy with the ‘greenest government ever’’s announcement because the work won’t be done in time – others are expected to follow.

Is there still a future in solar panels?

Up until last week, the government stated that UK home owners would have until the 1 April 2012 to fit solar panels and still be eligible for the higher Feed in Tariff (FiT) payments.

It was a deal that many jumped on – with around 10,000 households joining up.
Now, after the change of plan from the coalition, that date has now been moved forward, prompting serious concern about the viability of an industry constructed around the Feed-in Tariff scheme that now contains over 25, 000 people. It may mean serious and unexpected job loss in a market that held such promise.

What next for FiTs?

Much anger and frustration had surrounded the government plans for FiTs. An industry protest is planned in Westminster on 22 November and Friends of the Earth have threatened a legal challenge should there be no reversal on the proposal, claiming that the government should be encouraging renewable energy instead of putting people off it.

The industry is working over-time to complete the already started installations by the 12 December or  the 43.4p per kWh initially promised will drop to just 21p per kWh.

Potential problems

As well as the obvious draw back to the government’s FiTs proposal, other barriers are becoming evident for those planning to earn from their solar panels.

Firstly, those in the middle of an installation may now discover that they have to have all relevant paperwork in by 5 December bringing the installation deadline forward even more, although this is by no means a blanket policy.

Feed in Tariffs – what you need to know

  • If you are having solar panels installed by the 12 December then you will be on a FiT  rate of 43.4p per kWh for the next 25 years.
  • If your installation falls between 12 December and 1 April, you will be on the FiT rate of 43.4p per kWh until 1 April when the rate drops to 21p per kWh.
  • If your solar panels are not fully installed until after 1 April, you are only eligible for the 21p per kWh rate.

How do the government’s FiT proposal affect you? Are you currently in the middle of installation or planning an installation for before or after the 12 December? Do you think it’ll still be worth setting up solar panels after you’ve made your home compliant with the energy-efficient measures? Do the new plans make little difference to you – it’s still good to be generating your own energy, right? Let us know your thoughts…

By Deborah Burley

We can probably all agree that summer didn’t bring the weather we’d hoped for and now, with autumn firmly here, many of us can’t bear to face the winter months. So, at uSwitch we’ve decided to look forward to next summer instead of facing up to the reality of the chilly days ahead.

Here’s our top five garden products for next summer…

Solar Mate Secure 1 security light

Used for security but also as an on/off light when you go into the garden at night. It has three double sized LEDs so it’s capable of flooding an area of 16smq with light.

Murano solar garden globes (available in midnight, aqua, sunset or terra)

These stunning solar lights will make your garden even prettier in the summer months. With their beautiful design, the luminescent crystal and state-of-the-art white LED solar light appears to float in the air. We’ll be dotting these around our flowerbeds and ponds as soon as soon as spring hits -delightful.

POWERplus Dragonfly

 There’s nothing better than sitting in the garden on a warm summer’s evening and chatting to friends over a bottle of wine. You might light few candles too, but these have to be replaced and can often leave wax over your best patio table. With the POWERplus Dragonfly you can get the pleasure of a candle but the hassle- free convenience of a solar light – it mimics a candle; flickering under the moonlight after being powered by the sun.

Venetian solar garden lights

These solar garden lights are perfect for lighting up the garden path or drive. Made with a stainless steel body and shatter-proof glass, they’re durable enough to keep outside and their solar panels will last for two years.

By Deborah Burley

Who says that the end of summer and festival season means that we shouldn’t get out into the open air and camp throughout the winter? The wind may be enough to blow your tent away, you may experience torrential downpours and maybe even snow. But as long as you’ve got the gadgets to get you through any tricky situation then you’re quite happy, right?

Or, maybe like us, you’ll opt for a  Bed and Breakfast until spring.  Whatever your trekking style, make sure you’ve got our top energy-efficient products with you…

Five must-have items for when you’re out in the wilderness

Eton Scorpion

 This is the ultimate camping tool. It has a torch, a USB charger, an audio line output (AUX), a built in flashlight, a weather band radio and even a bottle opener for those crucial beers!

POWERplus bear lantern

With a traditional look and durable build, the bear can be charged through four different power sources. It has an impressive 24 LED light which means that the light will shine for up to four hours. Plenty of time to get your camp fire songs in before lights out.

POWERplus lynx dynamo


 The solar and dynamo powered Lynx may have a stylish white finish but it is certainly not just a pretty face: the heavy-duty radio with AM and FM frequencies looks like it’s ready to take on just about any weather condition  and it’ll also charge your mobile phone.

POWERplus cobra

When you’re exploring the great outdoors you’ll probably be on the move a lot, which is why the POWERplus Cobra is so useful – you can attach it to your backpack during the day to collect optimum solar power and charge your gadgets as you go.

POWERplus seal weather station

It may be a stylish weather station for your home, but you can take this on your adventures too. It’s solar powered so there’s no need for batteries and it’s a great gadget to have when planning those weather dependant activities.

by Maya Robert

Wind turbines on the increase

Image by ali_pk via flickr

The AEA, a climate change consultancy, has been watching us and how we adopt new renewable energy measures, such as solar panels, Feed-in Tariffs and wind power.

Today it published its regional results and some of them have been more surprising than others.

For instance, the North has proved a lot more proactive in taking up renewable energy schemes and showed the biggest uplift in renewable energy generation since the Feed-in Tariff (a government incentive that pays ypu for generating your own energy) was introduced.

On the other hand, homes and businesses in major cities such as Manchester faired a lot worse, coming bottom of the table.

Scotland was the winner for wind turbines. 14% of renewable energy is in wind power and Aberdeenshire alone has implemented 3.7% of the UK’s total.

However, it was Sheffield that shone as the leader in renewable energy. Of the 10 largest cities in the UK, it was Sheffield that beat other major cities, including the countries capitals for the most installed renewable energy measures.

In total, it achieved “over eight times as much installed capacity/1,000 population as London and fifteen times as much as Manchester”. The capital failed even to come second or third in the table, with Leeds and Bristol taking those places respectively.

“This,” wrote the AEA, “flies in the face of geographical expectations that northern cities would not maximise solar PV as much as their southern counterparts.”

By measuring how many KWe (kilowatts of energy) each city produced divided by its population, the AEA has given us a good ratio of which cities are adopting renewable energy the most.

For instance, Sheffield has increased its capacity by 1,997, which is an average of 3.65 KWe per 1000 people.

Although London might have produced the most KWe at 3,242, when divided by 1000 to put it in context of its population, it fairs a lot worse.

*graph information courtesy of AEA Group

It’s not just individual households that are taking advantage of government incentives to go green – measures, such as the Barclays £100m fund to help farmers pay for projects has led to large-scale renewable energy projects around the UK. Councils have also pushed for social housing to create more energy-efficient houses, thus increasing the scope of renewable energy across a range of communities.

Most notably, says the AEA, local authorities have been “taking advantage of’ the Feed-in Tariff scheme”. This means, the AEA predicts, that “low income households will also be able to benefit from future savings through the use of renewable electricity.”

Perhaps this is a ray of hope for the 6.3 million people currently living in fuel poverty.