Pulling on an extra sweater, half filling the kettle to make a cup of tea and religiously turning off the lights are just some of the adjustments we find ourselves making in the face of spiralling energy costs and global warming. With the government’s Energy Price Guarantee Scheme becoming less generous, an ending to the energy bills support scheme for households, and the introduction of the new Energy Discount Schemes for Business (EDSB), we may well collectively take a sharp intake of breath at the thought of even higher energy pricing to come.
The potential however, to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, reduce energy bills and guarantee energy independence through solar generated electricity is enormous. Even in our dear old wet and cloudy Scotland, the available radiance can, with the right solar PV, be harnessed to generate a reliable source of electricity all year round — essential for intensive energy users such as manufacturers and farmers.
Amid soaring energy prices and inflation eroding the value of cash, the team at the Forster Group are seeing an unprecedented level of enquiries not just amongst our loyal house builder clients but also from farmers and food producers. They see solar power as the fastest route to reducing and stabilising their energy costs and as a way of reducing the need to purchase power from energy suppliers.
Solar and storage technologies have come a long way since they were first introduced. The panels we use in our integrated solar roofing systems today have far higher efficiency and produce significantly more power. Their superior light trapping and improved current collection means that roof and ground mount sites can be configured much more efficiently to maximise the production of lower cost green energy. Up-front installation costs have also fallen considerably over the last decade, making investment in solar an even more attractive proposition.
Importantly, integrated solar solutions can be tailored with future energy and grid developments in mind so that they can be connected to storage batteries, either immediately or when the grid in a customer’s area permits.
Farmers, processors and manufacturers looking to capitalise on their roof spaces for the production of lower cost green energy, will typically make solar panels their first choice. However, ground mounted panels, which share the same energy generating properties and efficiencies as roof panels are increasingly popular on lower grade land.
By tailoring the most cost-effective solar solution – and where applicable, solar storage – to precisely match current and projected energy requirements, both ground-mounted and roof installation offer excellent energy cost savings and returns on investment.
With the right solar installation, the standard unit cost of electricity can be reduced from the recent highs of 75 or 80 pence per kW to as little as 10 pence. Typically, from the savings made against increases in power costs, the pay-back period for solar installation is around two years.
For those interested in adopting solar, the process is quick and easy. Using the latest design software, a desktop survey and quotation can be provided within a day. Backed up by a site survey and feasibility study, a solar installation can be complete in as short a time as three weeks. With changes expected to Permitted development rules this spring, commercial and industrial businesses will join farmers in no longer needing planning permission for solar installations.
I established the Forster Group, one of Scotland’s largest integrated solar and roofing businesses, 30 years ago. In the early days of solar, we were met with some cynicism, however, as we enter our fourth decade, we increasingly see former customers increasing their solar capacity, and I look forward to helping more businesses in farming, manufacturing and house building secure a more sustainable and affordable energy future.
Thanks to Aberdeenshire social housing landlord Osprey Housing, 11 residents in Garmouth, Moray are now receiving free electricity through solar-electricity-generating (PV) panels installed on their roof.
Eleven, eight panel (2kWp) solar PV systems were fitted, on the most southerly facing roof of each home. The works were completed by Brechin based installer Forster Energy, within a week, minimising any disruption to the residents.
A power diverter was also fitted, meaning that any solar-generated-electricity not used by the resident, is diverted to heat their hot water tank, further reducing the amount of electricity they need to buy-in from their energy supplier during the day. “This is what really sold it to us”, explained Osprey Housing Energy Support Officer, Jane McWhirr, “as it means that all tenants will benefit, regardless of whether or not they are at home during the day. It was an ideal solution for these properties, which due to being off the gas grid, tend to have high electricity bills.”
In order to help residents get the most out of the free electricity generated by the panels on their roof, Forster provided an eight page guide full of useful tips. The eight panel systems could save residents as much as £200, depending on how much electricity they use during day-light hours. “One tenant said her weekly spend on electricity has already gone down from £20 to £15.”
“It’s brilliant to hear that our tenants are already seeing the benefit of the new PV systems, and the improvement in the energy efficiency rating has meant that these homes are now meeting EESSH (Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing). Following the success of this, our first programme of PV, we are now considering rolling out PV programmes across other schemes.”
“We were delighted to be selected to work on this project, and it was really pleasing to receive such positive feedback from Osprey and their tenants” said Forster Energy Managing Director, Steve Scott. “PV provides a great solution for meeting the EESSH and tacking fuel poverty. It is cost effective and less intrusive than other measures and can have a significant impact on the Energy Efficiency ratings of homes and other buildings”.
The project was delivered through the newly established Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA) Energy Efficiency & Refurbishment framework. “We are really pleased with how this project was successfully delivered, it’s a great example of our Energy Efficiency & Refurbishment framework working well. Forster demonstrate the excellence we strive for at SPA, they have effectively safeguarded our client and demonstrate a suitable opportunity to procure an energy efficiency solution,” said Clive Feeney, Head of SPA Operations.
Forster Energy recently partnered with solar investment experts Renewable Energy Investments (REI) to offer Scottish businesses, public sector, commercial landlords and community groups an alternative way to fund clean energy generation projects, secure a reduced electricity tariff and reduce carbon emissions.
The partnership provides access to 100% funding for solar PV projects through a power purchase agreement (PPA). In return for the leasing of the airspace above their roof, organisations, individuals and community groups will receive a discounted rate on the electricity produced by the solar PV system for 25 years, guaranteed only to rise by RPI.
“We are delighted to be working with Forster Energy, to provide their clients with an attractive and secure funding option,” said REI Managing Director, Simon Booth.
Forster Energy Managing Director, Steve Scott explained “this partnership will make solar more widely accessible, particularly for those with a high energy consumption and whom funding has been a barrier to deployment”.
Clean, self-generated solar electricity not only significantly reduces energy costs, but helps commercial buildings comply with Section 63 of The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
For further details visit www.forstergroup.co.uk/energy/fully-funded-PV
Over the spring and summer months Forster delivered a series of twelve workshops for over forty Scottish social housing landlords. The well-received workshop explored the opportunity that solar PV presents in meeting the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) and tacking fuel poverty.
“The workshop proved extremely popular and led to much constructive discussion on the role that PV can play in meeting EESSH and energy future proofing social homes” explained Forster’s Technical Manager Alan Collins.
Ian Byers, Housing Manager for Glen Housing Association, who arranged a workshop session for a number of Fife based housing associations commented “The session was attended by staff involved with the delivery of energy efficiency measures as well as those with less experience in this area, and provided useful information on the EESSH targets and how solar PV provides a cost effective solution. We have since followed up with a small feasibility study and again the information provided by Forster has been very helpful in our considerations on energy efficiency improvements for our housing stock”.
EESSH was launched in March 2014 with the objective of improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s social housing stock. The standard sets a minimum energy efficiency (EE) rating for each social home (see table below), for landlords to achieve before the end of 2020.
The rating depends upon the dwelling type and the fuel type used to heat it. EESSH will mean that no social home will be lower than a ‘C’ or ‘D’ rating, resulting in warmer homes, lower fuel consumption, and subsequently, lower fuel bills and less tenants in fuel poverty. Social housing is already significantly more energy efficient than private rented or owner occupied homes and as at 1st April 2015, 64% of social homes were already meeting EESSH, This leavs 218,000 homes requiring energy efficient measures to meet the standard.
Solar PV provides the ideal solution to EESSH. It is cost effective and less intrusive than other measures, like external or internal wall insulation and as the table below shows it can have a significant impact on EE ratings.
Click here to download a sample of the 35 slide presentation and here to download a three page ‘Meeting EESSH with solar’ summary from the Solar Trade Association or contact us directly to request a workshop.
A review of EESSH is planned in 2017. “It will consider the setting of longer term milestones in line with the requirements of the 2050 Climate Change target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions against the 1990 baseline”. Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing
Forster was recently appointed onto the Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA) new ‘Energy Efficiency and Refurbishment’ framework. Forster will service workstream 2 of the SPA Energy Efficiency and Refurbishment (N7) framework, which runs until May 2020.
The OJEU compliant framework is targeted at those responsible for procuring energy efficiency measures for Scottish social housing and public buildings. This workstream allows SPA partner members to appoint Forster to deliver solar PV retrofit programmes.
“We are delighted to have been appointed on to this Framework and see it as a great opportunity for Scottish social landlords and public bodies to embrace the opportunity that solar presents in achieving EESSH and tackling fuel poverty”, explained Forster Managing Director, Steve Scott.
The Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA) is a new approach for procurement in Scotland, created for organisations that buy products and services for the construction, refurbishment and maintenance of social housing and public buildings. It is backed by LHC, one of the leading and most respected procurement organisations in the UK. SPA frameworks are available to all organisations in Scotland that are fully or part publicly funded.
In only a few short months the solar industry has gone from being the rising star of the renewables revolution to a sector under incredible pressure.
Following the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) planned review of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), a consultation was launched in August setting out plans to slash the sub 10kW solar tariff by an astonishing 87% and stripping back the sub 50kW tariff (popular with many businesses) by almost 70% from January 2016. The ability to pre-register or lock into a tariff level will also be removed, from 2016.
The UK government’s proposed cuts threaten to dismantle all the work invested in creating confidence and stability for the industry and investors, which have driven growth in Scotland’s economy.
What does this mean for Scottish businesses?
With over 5GW of on-shore wind and barely 200MW of installed solar it is clear that solar combined with a growing energy storage industry can provide the necessary balance to help meet The Scottish Government’s renewable electricity aspirations.
It is clear that those installing solar in 2015 before the cuts, will benefit from the greatest return on their investment if they act now.
However from 2016 there is still hope for the future of solar. After the massive cuts to the FiT in 2011, we saw a 70 per cent fall in the cost of solar panels. And again we expect a similar outcome, as these final cuts are implemented. This could mean that a high energy using business could still see a 15 per cent+ annual return on their investment.
A further drop in costs will follow the planned removal of the Minimum Import Price (MIP) imposed on Chinese manufactured panels in 2013 which could well bring a further 25 per cent reduction in the price of panels.
With the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that solar could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, we can be confident that irrespective of the Government cuts, solar will play an increasingly significant role in Scotland’s energy sector.
To speak to us about how to benefit from solar and how this will affect your business contact me on John.Forster@forstergroup.co.uk
On Thursday 27th August 2015, DECC announced plans to drastically cut subsidies through the Feed-in Tariff scheme which will have damaging effects on the solar industry. However in Scotland there remains strong support politically and commercially and there is still hope for solar to thrive.
The proposed Feed-in Tariff (FiT) reduction is unnecessary, unjustifiable, unmanageable and ultimately destructive for Scotland’s emerging solar industry.
Earlier this year in March, we launched STA Scotland, due to the growing interest from industry and the Scottish Government. There are approximately 500 solar related jobs in Scotland, and with solar set to play a significant part in meeting the Scottish Government’s 2020, 100% renewable electricity target we had predicted that the Scottish solar industry would add a further 3,000 jobs over the next five years. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has already highlighted that Scotland is at the forefront of the renewables industry and that solar needs to play a key role in meeting this target.
This slashing of support in January 2016, set out in the FiT review, is completely unnecessary. When the Solar Trade Association (STA) published its Solar Independence Plan (SIP) to the new Government in June this year, it set out the solar industry’s own objective to become subsidy free by 2020. The SIP, sets out in detail how this could be achieved through a predictable and progressive plan. A plan that would deliver the essential confidence and stability for industry and investors, which in turn drives the growth, innovation and efficiency that leads to subsidy free solar.
The potential damage to our industry is completely unjustifiable. As we saw in the recent consultations announced by the UK government, for the removal of pre-accreditation and early closure of the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme, the FiT review wrongly attributes projected overspend within the Levy Control Framework (LCF) to the solar industry.
Solar continues to be the most popular source of energy with more than 80% of the British public supporting solar power. The estimated cost of FiT solar on consumer energy bills this year (2015/16) is £7, with 80% of that money being spent on the solar FiT, attributable to domestic solar systems installed before 2011. Solar costs have fallen by 70% in the last five years making solar an increasingly cost effective renewable technology. An extra £1.70 on energy bills between now and 2020 would deliver over one million more solar homes by 2020 and achieve subsidy free, domestic, roof top solar. It will not only provide lower cost energy, but significantly reduce fuel poverty in Scotland.
The solar industry’s SIP shows how the UK’s solar ambition for 2020 could be doubled to 25GW (with current deployment at approximately 8GW) for just £13 on annual household bills in 2020. The Government’s stated justification for these destructive cuts, is the desire to reduce the impact on household energy bills, whereas the true costs demonstrate that this is no reason for abandoning our solar industry.
The Government has already seen the impact of sudden drastic cuts in 2011, and the results were unmanageable. The huge surge in demand that is the likely outcome of the FiT review, will deliver the worst possible scenario for solar installers and their customers. For an industry that has taken three years to rebuild itself from the previous cuts, there simply isn’t the capacity to deal with the inevitable demand. The proposals will lead to the cramming of installs into a diminishing window of time that includes a major holiday period and winter weather, putting installers at risk under time pressures to ensure customers don’t lose out on the higher tariff before January.
Prior to the drastic FiT cuts in 2011, registered installer business numbers surged to over 8,000, before plunging to around 2,000. The UK industry now supports around 34,000 jobs and yet the inevitable result of these astonishing proposed cuts in January 2016 could lead to the ultimate destruction of a large part of our industry. We are in touching distance of solar becoming subsidy free over the next five years. Just as the industry requires stability to reach its goal the DECC changes are causing unnecessary disruption and uncertainty to this being achieved.
The plans seem short sighted when increasing UK deployment will reduce carbon emissions, improve the UK’s energy security, reduce our trade deficit, provide significant new employment and contain the rising costs of energy.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is predicting that solar could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050. India and China alone have committed to the install of 100GW each in the next few years. And just as British solar companies, with the benefit of their home grown expertise, have started to export their services in these rapidly expanding global market places, their foundations are set to be eroded by poorly judged Government policies.
To speak to us about how this will affect your business get in touch direct at John.Forster@forstergroup.co.uk
Solar power has seen spectacular growth in Britain and around the world over the last five years. It now provides 1.5% of the UK’s electricity, supporting over 30,000 jobs across the country (including the supply chain). Prices have tumbled rapidly, allowing the Government to cut subsidies by about two-thirds during the lifetime of the last Parliament.
DECC has found that solar consistently has strong public support out of the renewable mix, year on year.
The Solar Trade Association recently published its ‘Solar Independence Plan for Britain’, setting out how the new Government can remove the need for subsidies completely as solar prices fall and reach parity by 2020.
By adopting our 25GW ambition, solar could provide:
Solar power is a breakthrough technology that is globally predicted to be the cheapest energy source by 2025 and the largest by 2050. Increasing its UK deployment will reduce carbon emissions, improve the UK’s energy security, reduce our trade deficit, provide significant new employment and help to contain the rising costs of energy.
We strongly recommend establishing a UK Government-industry task force to plan for solar’s transition to grid parity. Subsidy-free solar is tantalisingly close – we are confident that adoption of our Solar Independence Plan can make it one of the new Government’s significant achievements.
On Friday 3rd July, we welcomed, Murdo Fraser MSP to Cronan Farm, in Perthshire to visit one of our largest solar installations and speak to our team about the benefits for agricultural businesses.
Murdo Fraser MSP said,
“The solar industry provides a fantastic source of clean, low cost energy that farms like this can benefit from. Today was a great opportunity to see first-hand these benefits and meet those involved.”
Cronan Farm is home to MJ & J McLaren broccoli and potato enterprise, which installed a 720 panel solar array to provide power for the farm cold stores. The installation exemplifies the appetite for solar amongst Scottish farmers, keen to reduce their energy costs by generating their own cheaper and cleaner electricity.
Scotland is already a strong advocate of solar with 35,000 homes and 600 businesses currently benefitting from solar technology.
Leading provider of roof-top and free-standing solar photovoltaics in Scotland, Forster Energy, is all set for this year’s All-Energy Exhibition and Conference.
The event, which is the UK’s largest renewable energy showcase, takes place at the SECC, Glasgow on May 6 and 7.
Forster Energy will again be sharing a stand H30 with Angus Council where they will be showcasing their popular in-roof solar display. Their team of experts will be on hand to discuss the fantastic opportunity that solar presents for house builders, public sector and community bodies, social housing landlords, farmers and commercial landlords and tenants.
STA Scotland are hosting a networking breakfast, sponsored by Forster Energy at Sunamp’s stand B21 on Thursday May 7 between 9:30 and 10:30. All are welcome to join us for a bacon bap, croissant or a healthy fruit platter to celebrate the recent launch of STA Scotland and to network with solar industry professionals.
All Energy 2015 looks to build on the success of previous years and is this year being held in Glasgow for the first time, following 10 years in Aberdeen.
With more than 450 exhibition stands and over 120 hours of presentations, delivered by 440 industry expert speakers – All-Energy 2015 is the place to be to for all with an interest in renewables. Come along and explore new opportunities, forge deals and participate in unrivalled networking, at this free to-attend event.
A new DECC report, which classifies solar PV as ‘a strong economic booster’, highlights the momentous growth in the sector in the last five years. The current UK total installed capacity sits at 5GW, rising from a meagre 33MW in 2010. Although the majority of installations to date have been in the domestic retro-fit and large-scale free standing markets, the commercial roof-top market is set to be the new growth area for the sector. Awareness of the benefits of self generated electricity, from a commercial perspective is rising. At the same time key barriers including planning constraints, transferability and landlord-tenant issues are being resolved.
Forster Group Chairman and newly appointed Chair of STA Scotland, John Forster will be speaking in London this Wednesday (1st April) as part of The Solar Trade Association’s Commercial Rooftop Event: Delivering Growth. The event will explore how installers have overcome the barriers and created opportunities for growth in the new build, roof integrated and retro-fit commercial markets. John will be speaking on the role of integrated solar and touch on how new energy standards in Scotland will lead to increased deployment, particularly in the house build and social housing sectors.
John is part of a host of experienced industry speakers, who will present delegates with tools to deliver growth across the commercial rooftop market.
To find out more about the event click here.
UPDATE: 6 April 2015
John’s presentation about roof integrated solar in Scotland can be viewed below.
We are delighted to announce that we have entered into an Affinity Partnership with NFU Scotland.
The partnership now means that NFU Scotland members, in addition to taking control of their energy costs, can benefit from saving over £2,000 on PV packages. This offer includes free web based monitoring and a special extended maintenance/review package. In addition, a new telephone consultation service has been launched to provide advice to NFU Scotland members who already have PV systems installed.
“We are delighted to be working with Forster Energy to raise awareness of the benefits of solar PV in helping our 8,500 members take control of their electricity costs” explained Colin Gordon from NFU Scotland.
“Our partnership with NFU Scotland strengthens our relationship with the farming sector”, said Forster Group Chairman John Forster. “We recognise that farmers and other businesses, particularly those with a high electricity use, are being increasingly impacted by rising energy costs. Through this partnership we will be able to empower more farmers to generate their own supply of clean electricity and therefore take greater control over their energy costs“.
To find out more about Forster’s PV service to farmers click here.