It is pretty well known and understood that the most important thing to consider when installing any renewable technologies is that first of all the property is energy efficient. Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to bring down carbon emissions. With this in mind the government, subject to the outcome of the feed-in tariff consultation, will look at renewable technology and energy efficiency as a whole house approach. They are proposing that all new solar PV installations attached to or wired to provide electricity to a building, with an eligibility date on or after 1st April 2012, will need to demonstrate that the building that the installation is attached meets a certain level of energy efficiency. Where this cannot be demonstrated the FIT rate will be reduced from 21p/kWh to 9p/kWh.
The owner of the property will need to:
As a transitional arrangement, any installations carried out between 1st April 2012 and 31st March 2013 would have 12 months from the FIT eligibility date to bring the property up to the required standards.
Bring the property up to an (EPC) rating of level C or above
The Green Deal is a scheme that is due to launch in Autumn 2012 and aims to reduce energy demand and carbon emissions by providing the opportunity for people to install energy efficient measures and improvements at no upfront costs. Bill payers would then be expected to pay back the cost of these measures through the savings that they would make through reduced energy bills.
To demonstrate that a certain level of energy efficiency has been achieved, the FIT generator would need a valid energy Performance Certificate (EPC), and this would need to be submitted to their FIT supplier. It is thought that the EPC rating should be level C or above as level D would mean that less than half of UK households would have to make further energy efficiency improvements in order to qualify for the standard tariff.
Installing a solar PV system on to a property will in itself improve the overall energy efficiency of a building, so this could contribute to achieving the requirement and will be taken into account when an application has been made.
Other energy efficiency measures that will be included are:
Cavity Wall Insulation
Hot Water Cylinder Insulation
Solid Wall Insulation (primarily for pre-1919 houses)
Undertake all the measures that are identified on an EPC as potentially eligible for Green Deal finance
The second approach that the government are looking at is whereby a homeowner would be eligible for the full FIT rate if they install all energy efficiency measures that are identified in the EPC as eligible for Green Deal funding. This approach would drive up demand for solid wall insulation.
Although more complex and harder to administer it would provide a more bespoke set of measures for the individual requirements of the dwelling. This would mean that more properties would need to make improvements before they can be eligible for the full FIT tariff. This is because there may be properties that already have an EPC rating of level C and above, but would have to make further energy efficiency improvements if there was a measure they had not already done.
It is thought that non-domestic buildings will follow a similar system. It is however acknowledged that energy efficiency measures can often be more complex and varied for non-domestic buildings.
Implementation and eligibility
Under both of the options above and for domestic and non-domestic installations of solar PV, a valid EPC would need to be submitted to the FIT licensee as evidence.