Monday, 8 February 2010

A sunny outlook for 'green' powered homes

Benefiting as we do in Budleigh from all that sunshine, you'd think that most houses would take advantage of solar power installations to reduce their energy bills.

In fact the town's estate agents will tell you that solar panels are rarely mentioned as a feature in their house sales.

That situation is likely to change. James Whiting, whose family moved to the town in 1982 is a regular visitor to Budleigh, and as Managing Director of Friends of the Earth has played a major role since 2008 in persuading the Government to introduce a feed-in tariff (FiT) - or Clean Energy Cashback, as it is known.
It means that along with the rest of Europe, the UK will offer financial incentives from April 2010 to those who generate low carbon electricity from renewable energy resources such as small wind turbines and solar panels.

James Whiting and Friends of the Earth are among those who feel that Britain needs to go much further in this 'green' direction.
The cash payments that will be made to homes, businesses and communities for generating 'green' electricity - announced on 1February by climate secretary Ed Miliband - are lacking in ambition, says the environmental campaign group in a statement.

FoE, which led the campaign for a feed-in tariff, believes that the payment levels should have been set to produce a 10 per cent return on investment instead of the five to eight per cent return that has been agreed.

Although the Government announced some welcome improvements to its feed-in tariff proposals (such as increasing tariff payments with inflation), the scheme is still predicted to contribute just two per cent of UK electricity by 2020, despite research which shows that the scheme could generate three times as much with increased tariff payments.

Green energy: the way forward to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels
Exmouth's Jonathan Davis – a professional energy consultant and member of Transition Town Exmouth’s Energy Group – is nonetheless hopeful that more households will be tempted to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels by investigating green energy sources.

"With the new energy feed-in tariff due in April, there’s no better time to install solar
electric panels or small wind turbines and start generating your own power," he will say in a presentation to local residents, echoing the message heard by those who attended Budleigh's first science festival on 5 February

So what are the implications of the new tariff for consumers? What does the Government hope to achieve from it? And how can you capitalize from it? Jonathan Davis will have the answers when he hosts an informal and informative presentation about solar energy – and the new tariff – at Exmouth Community College's Telfer Centre on Monday 22 February 2010.

"It will be an interesting evening that will explain FiT to the uninitiated," says Jonathan. "As the landscape of domestic renewable energy installations changes, so new opportunities and incentives arise. The new tariff could offer a better return on your investment than a savings account, with guaranteed payments for 25 years for all the electricity you generate – even if you use it yourself! Even a modest domestic installation will turn a significant profit over the life of the scheme. We will also take a look at the groundbreaking solar heat tariff proposed for next year. So come along and find out what you could be doing, how you could start it and why
doing nothing will become increasingly expensive."

Jonathan’s talk – “Money for watts? Renewable energy and the new domestic feed-in tariff explained” – is at the Telfer Suite, Exmouth Community College (Gipsy Lane site) on Monday 22 February, 7.30-9.30 pm. The evening also features a beginners’ guide to funding. Admission is £3 and includes tea and biscuits. All proceeds go to Transition Town Exmouth.

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