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29 responses to “Part two of Feed In Tariffs – Do they work at Home?”

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Thanks Dale, that is clear and what I suspected: metering of microgen is not currently economic.

      Now, if we had smart meters that (a) did half-hourly accounting and pricing in both directions and (b) communicated this to the DNOs and/or upstream suppliers automatically and (c) showed us as consumers what was going on per consumer circuit and per generation source, and could do so in a reasonably-priced unit*, we’d be onto a winner. Just HH/TOD pricing and per-circuit reporting could cut usage and shift peaks.

      Anyway, yes, doubling the microgen ROCs again would be good and sensible from what you say.

      (BTW, given that you’ve told your RW customers you’re paying double ROCs from 1st May but haven’t asked (me at least!) for total-gen readings, how do you intend to do it? Backdating to the Ofgem reading might be administratively simpler IMHO…)

      Rgds

      Damon

      * Yes, this is the killer until Ofgem/BERR pulls its finger out and mandates something to get economies of manufacturing scale. I think that they/DNOs/suppliers should force HH metering to all single users over 500kWh/month to start catching the profligate and not hurting the energy-poor.

        • TW

          Looks like Dale is very interested in getting the additional subsidy at the expense of micro generators – only wish I had the capital to get in this game!

          These subdisdy levels make it very worthwhile and with the curent hysteria around gloabal warming there’s never been a better time to cash in – well done ecotricity, true arbitrage at it’s finest!

    • Chris

      You mentioned in your first FIT blog that the UK has 40% of Europes onshore wind, enough to power itself several times over. If we ever got to the position where we were harvesting a considerable portion of that energy, do you think it could someday be tecnically possible for the UK to become a major energy exporter? (I’m not an engineer as you may have guessed!!)

      Secondly, grants for micro-generation have been cut recently. Are grants part of the answer for micro-generation?

      I’d also be interested to hear from you why you think countries like Norway and Sweden are such a success with Renewables. Whilst many European countries struggle to hit 15% renewable generation targets, Norway generates well over 40% of it’s energy from renewables, whilst Sweden generates nearly 30% .

      http://www.sustainable-development.gov.uk/progress/international/4.htm

    • Martin

      One of the more economic microgeneration systems that often gets left out of the debate is solar thermal. It is one of the cheapest forms of microgeneration but does not qualify for ROCS or a feed in tariff because the energy is just heat. Unfortunately the paltry £400 grant does not make the system economically viable in the short term, but it is good geeting hot water for weeks on end without your boiler on!

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Hi Martin,

      Yes, solar thermal is next on my list as money allows, and can make a great big dent in a house’s carbon footprint (I reckon that it could knock 25% of our annual mains gas consumption by halving our DHW gas use).

      It is a shame that excess from solar thermal in summer cannot be exported or otherwise used which is why I’m brewing up two madcap plans: (1) a seasonal thermal store to carry that excess summer energy round to winter and almost entirely eliminate the need for non-solar DHW mains energy [a nice 10t milk tanker would do the job for us] and (2) a Seebeck or Organic Rankine Cycle heat-recovery generator to extract the excess and export it to the grid.

      The former takes space and labour but the hardware is relatively cheap, and I’m progressing outline quotes for that, slowly.

      The heat-engine theoretical recovery limits for using excess heat (hot water tank at 90C, outside air at ~20C) are 10%-20%, which given the high efficiency of collection of solar thermal, might give an overall collection efficiency similar to putting thin-film PV directly on the roof, but with a guaranteed tank of hot water too!

      ORC systems of suitable size seem thin on the ground at best, but I do have some Seebeck devices in front of me at this moment to play with when I have that round tuit… B^>

      (More of this madness at my Web site, should anyone care to look.)

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Peter Simmons

      No apostrophe in tariffs, a simple plural. Sorry, can’t help myself.

    • paul

      Hehe – cheers Peter – I will correct..

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      I just had another small thought on the demand-management side that might be essentially free and easy to do for those computers (eg in data centres and home/office PCs/laptops) with a permanent Net connection:

      http://www.earth.org.uk/low-power-software.html#WebLoadMgmt

      This is something that company such as Ecotricity could manage at little cost if the National Grid was not interested in handling it directly…

      An interesting slant would be to defer load when grid CO2 intensity is high and/or when Ecotricity turbines are generating less than expected….

      Rgds

      Damon

        • Damon Hart-Davis

          FWIW, with the help of Elexon (part of National Grid) I’ve been able to create a live grid carbon-intensity calculator for GB:

          http://www.earth.org.uk/_gridCarbonIntensityGB.html

          The upshot of my investigations so far is that intensity (the amount of CO2 emitted per kWh generated) correlates strongly with demand and thus varies considerably during the day (and by season).

          Thus, if you can put off running a big electrical load such as your washing machine or dishwasher from 7pm (peak demand and intensity) to 10pm (eg or whenever you go to bed) you’ll probably reduce the emissions for your consumption by 10% or more.

          Rgds

          Damon

    • paul

      Hmmmm – interesting idea Damon – I suppose the opposite could also be true for when supply (from turbines on a very windy day for example) is higher than needed and beyond storage capacity, it could prompt the networked PCs to use more power by carrying out CPU intensive distributed processing tasks (such as climate change modelling or SETI)…

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Plus, turning on extra loads *costs* end users money, whereas trimming load can be sold more easily IMHO as ‘save money, the Grid and the planet all at once with this free gadget’…

      Rgds

      Damon

    • paul

      I agree it is much more likely to be useful in a microgen scenario where you aren’t paying (or being payed)…

      I used to ‘do’ festivals with a microgen rig, and we used a tea urn to shed extra load on extra windy/sunny days (and cranking up the soundsystem of course).

      It really put me in touch with the concept of ‘harvesting’ energy and celebrating an abundance when the conditions were right :-)

      Cor – pet AI! Sounds exciting, but that page didn’t make any sense to me ;-)

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Just put that there to blind you with science should Ecotricity just happen to need someone to help put such a scheme together! B^>

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Remember that the computers already have a Net link for remote tweaking of their power (from polling for Grid status) and so only software would be needed for the end users.

      (I have fed the other part of the idea to a smart-socket manufacturer just in case they can use it somehow, though I don’t know what the selling proposition would be! In other countries they already do this but there needs to be some agreed way of signalling to the devices, eg over radio like for Economy 7, or over DNO wires.)

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Hi again Dale,

      FYI: I’ve just found a good person at the EU Commission in the energy-efficiency/labelling area who’s in favour of tweaking energy labelling to support grid-friendly ‘dynamic demand’ stuff for wet/white goods and computers. Ie, that reduces grid balancing costs and automagically allows a little more intermittent generation on the grid.

      All I have to do it dig out some hard numbers for him that he can wave under ministers’ noses to back up such legal changes! The weight of the world is on my shoulders… B^>

      If you’ve got a cluestick for me, it would be welcome, else Google is my friend. %->

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Hi,

      I’ve updated my document (still draft!) with some real(ish) numbers, and it looks like domestic dynamic demand could eliminate much of the extra balancing cost of adding another 20GW+ of wind to the UK grid, at least over the seconds-to-hours timescale, and might even help automatically suppress domestic energy demand for a percent or more longer-term if we had a real RE drought (eg a run of cold and still days).

      BTW, the DUKES report for 2008 confirms that wind passed hydro for electricity generation in 2007!

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Ho hum, looks like I have to eat some fairly substantial but tasty hat… Ed Miliband said today that microgenerators will be getting a FIT in the current Energy Bill.

      Rgds

      Damon

        • Jonny Holt

          Hello Damon et al,

          As was widely predicted, Feed In Tariffs for microgen have now appeared in the UK – just as they are being cut in Germany.

          Read this, from George Monbiot:

          http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/03/01/a-great-green-rip-off/

          I am thinking of setting up in business making fake solar panels (a la burglar alarm boxes) to satisfy the market that will emerge among people who want to buy power from the grid at 7p/unit and sell it straight back at 44p while appearing to have a legitimate means of doing so.

          After all, why should I even bother with the expense of the real thing if my only interest is money?

          Does anyone else want to join me in this lucrative venture? It is a sure-fire investment.

          Best regards,

          Jonny.

            • Damon Hart-Davis

              Other than the straight fraud angle, you (or the purchasers or your fakes) will need to allow Ofgem to inspect your setup (including the total generation meter) at short notice as we all do, and you’ll have to collude with an MCS-certified installer to have your ‘installation’ accepted. And unless you are very careful the stats will stick out like a sore thumb…

              None of that impossible to swerve past, but mugging OAPs would probably generate you more revenue per annum.

              Rgds

              Damon

                • Jonny Holt

                  Hello Damon,

                  I’m sorry – maybe I should have prefaced my last post with an “irony alert”. However, I would not be surprised to see this sort of venture reported in the media in the years to come.

                  My point is that the flawed logic underpinning the new feed in tariff regime appears to have nothing to do with truly greening the nation. It seems to be a shallow attempt at appealing to the baser instincts of the British householder and avoids what could have been a genuine policy to promote renewables – directing a similar amount of money towards big wind, for instance.

                  I know you are a close observer of these things – so correct me if I am wrong – but I am under the impression that the energy payback period on nearly all grid-tied microgen installations is vastly longer than on any wind farm of the sort that Ecotricity own and operate.

                  Shouldn’t this be the only criteria on which any supposedly green subsidy is judged?

                  Best regards,

                  Jonny.

                    • Damon Hart-Davis

                      Dale’s claim has long been, I think, that basically microgen is poor value for money compared to utility-scale wind, in terms of kWh/£, and I’m pretty sure that he’s right except in specific cases such as off-grid where the output of Ecotricity’s turbines can’t be plumbed in cost-effectively.

                      I consider the primary virtue of microgen in most cases to be in making people think about generation and consumption and conservation and seeing other people doing it, and seeing the whole thing as potentially positive and interesting and not just annoying crap from those damn hippies, ie FiTs may be a relatively *cheap* way of getting attention and mindshare.

                      Now I’m actually doing extensive solar PV myself, the most expensive but the only microgen currently available to me in suburban London, and will be generating twice what we consume and will be getting my house close to zero carbon, and all largely without subsidy (I get some, but it has been trivial so far). I’m lucky to be able to afford the capital cost without needing a clear financial payback; most people can’t.

                      And local microgen will have benefits in terms of grid sizing and stabilisation, especially in conjunction with storage as it becomes available…

                      Rgds

                      Damon

    • Don Young

      Dear Sir,

      I wish to question whether Government Feed In Tariff schemes, although well intentioned, is poor economic policy in its current form, and whether it should be changed (or expanded) as described below.

      It costs about $20,000 for a household to install solar panels to offset their household energy usage, and it costs more than $1,000 per year for electricity consumers to ‘subsidise’ each household receiving the generous ‘feed-in’ tariff, not to mention the cost of any installation rebate subsidy.

      It is smarter if a household is able to invest in a 1/1000 share of a 2.5 mw Government large wind turbine (estimated cost $5,000 per household), which would generate the same amount of renewable energy.

      Households cannot do this themselves, and need Government to implement and manage the scheme.

      Potentially, it would
      (1) tap a very large funding source for renewable energy (which the Government cannot fund by itself),
      (2) enabling many more households who cannot afford $20,000 for solar energy to offset their energy consumption with renewables,
      (3) not require $1,000 per year per household premium for ‘feed-in’ subsidy.
      (4) not require installation rebate
      (5) run at no nett cost to the Government or other electricity consumers.

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Dale has pointed out in the past when various of us have suggested similar things that the bottleneck is planning consent, not money.

      I’m not averse to bit of voluntary taxation to support ends that I think are good, so your suggestion has some appeal. I bought Eurotunnel shares with no expectation of financial gain to do my bit to finally get the *(£*$) thing built, for example!

      And as a government-driven project, presumably the planning process could be made to go faster.

      But, as in all these things, what makes you think that the government would be particularly competent to manage such a project compared to private-sector companies such as Ecotricity?

      I’d rather that the government further smoothed the hurdles for small RE (macro- and micro- gen) developments in particular, and possibly reversed the normal presumption against new development where safety is not an issue, since preserving aesthetics is a lower priority when great tracts of our coastline and major cities, etc, etc, are at risk of ‘unsightly’ flooding and other disaster…

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Rob Misselbrook

      FIT – where we see their benefit is part of the solution, certianly not the whole solution. First of all, the engagement issue should not be underestimated. We are seeing a number of added effects such as reduced energy demand (now they are energy aware), greater acceptance of ‘wind projects’ in general and a real feeling of inclusion in the issues. Also, with the code for sustainable homes legislation (zero carbon emissions by 2016) FIT are almost manditory otherwise housebuilders will leave the sector completely – because homes will be unaffordable without them. Thirdly, FIT are being introduced with Renewable Heat Incentives (albeit 1 year later) and there are some real benefits to the consumer and the environment here (solar thermal and heat pumps in particular). Forthly, the combination of all of this (better buildings from an energy demand point of view), on site generation and multiplier effects of heat pumps (taking 1 KW of PV or micro wind and converting to ~4kW of heat) should be applauded – this is a good way to build. Fithly (is there such a word?) the commercial aspects need to be considered here in terms of pricing points. FIT and RHI make these products inherintly affordable and therefore commercially viable. I can only guess at the issues of large wind in this environment in raising capital, not to mention planning/conection issues. So, I think we will see a remarkable uptake of these technologies and if we can support this with ‘big wind’, all the better.