Feb 7, 2010

Spreading the Use of Solar Power

The British government has recently come up with a plan to give solar power to more people owing to an imminent rise in energy prices across the country. As Chiara Cavaglieri puts it,

Hoping to encourage a movement towards renewable energy, the Government has finalised details of its feed-in tariffs, which reward people who produce their own energy by investing in technology such as solar panels and small wind turbines.

"This new scheme is a fantastic opportunity for householders to make money, cut fuel bills and play their part in slashing carbon-dioxide emissions," says Dave Timms, green homes campaigner for eco-action group Friends of the Earth. "Developing the UK's massive small-scale renewable energy potential will help to tackle climate change, create new green jobs and industries, and increase our energy security."

From 1 April, any household generating its own energy will be rewarded with tax-free payments. The cashback levels will depend on the technology used, with solar panels attracting the most generous payments. Further payments will be awarded to householders directing any energy they don't need back to the National Grid. However, these bonus payments for exporting energy have been reduced to 3p/kWh from an initially proposed rate of 5p/kWh.

The type of technology used will depend on the property type. So a solar photovoltaic (PV) system needs a south-facing, preferably sloping, roof. In England and Scotland, planning permission is not usually required, although there are some restrictions in terms of size, and exceptions apply for any listed buildings, and properties near a conservation area, national park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In Wales and Northern Ireland, householders must consult their local authorities about planning permission.

Well, this is certainly encouraging, but one this is still stands in the way - it's still cheaper to rely on traditional sources of energy. Unless consumers have a long-term view, they will see little reason to switch to solar power.

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