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Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) explained

Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) – What’s that all about?
A Feed-in Tariff (FIT) is a payment made by energy companies to anyone who owns a renewable electricity system. Pay is guaranteed, long-term for 20 to 25 years, for electricity generated by renewable sources regardless of whether the energy is used on-site or exported back to the grid. The scheme is open to all organisations, businesses, communities and private individuals and came into effect on the 1st April 2010. The tariff paid is in addition to any revenue generated from selling surplus electricity back to the utility provider and is inflated annually in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI).FIT payments are under constant review to reflect the rapidly changing cost of the hardware, so it is advisable to consult The Government Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) website for the latest developments.  One such development is the introduction of higher, medium and lower rate tariff bands for solar photovoltaic installations to reflect a building’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating and the system owner’s total number of FIT registered solar photovoltaic installations.  Full details of the eligibility criteria can be found on the DECC website.  Currently, the FITs are levied as follows with solar photovoltaic installations shown at the higher rate:

£0.160/kWhr for small-scale solar photovoltaic installations up to 4kW (retro-fit)

£0.160/kWhr for small-scale solar photovoltaic installations up to 4kW (new build)

£0.145/kWhr for small-scale solar photovoltaic installations 4kW – 10kW

£0.135/kWhr for medium-scale solar photovoltaic installations 10kW – 50kW

£0.115/kWhr for medium-scale solar photovoltaic installations 50kW – 100kW

£0.115/kWhr for medium-scale solar photovoltaic installations 100kW – 150kW

£0.110/kWhr for medium-scale solar photovoltaic installations 150kW – 250kW

£0.071/kWhr for large-scale solar photovoltaic installations 250kW – 5,000kW

£0.071/kWhr for stand-alone solar photovoltaic installations up to 5,000kW

£0.280/kWhr for small-scale wind turbine installations 1.5kW – 15kW

£0.254/kWhr for medium-scale wind turbine installations 15kW – 100kW

£0.206/kWhr for medium-scale wind turbine installations 100kW – 500kW

£0.104/kWhr for medium-scale wind turbine installations 500kW – 1,500kW

£0.049/kWhr for large-scale wind turbine installations 1,500kW – 5,000kW

£0.219/kWhr for small-scale hydroelectric installations up to 15kW

£0.196/kWhr for medium-scale hydroelectric installations 15kW – 100kW

£0.121/kWhr for medium-scale hydroelectric installations 100kW – 2,000kW

£0.121/kWhr for large-scale hydroelectric installations 2,000kW – 5,000kW

£0.147/kWhr for small-scale anaerobic digestion installations up to 250kW

£0.136/kWhr for medium-scale anaerobic digestion installations 250kW – 500kW

£0.099/kWhr for large-scale anaerobic digestion installations 500kW – 5,000kW

What is the typical simple payback period for a solar photovoltaic (PV) installation taking into account the latest Feed-in Tariff (FIT) incentives?
Simple payback on the initial capital investment of a solar PV installation is now down from 50 – 60 years to around 16 – 17 years, but this doesn’t take into account the likely escalation in fuel prices which would reduce this figure even further.
What’s best: Solar Thermal Flat Plates or Solar Thermal Evacuated Tubes?
Generally speaking the solar thermal evacuated tubes offer the best all year round performance and yield around 20% more energy per annum than an equivalent area of flat plates under similar conditions.
What types of wood-fuel are available in the UK for biomass boilers?
Biomass fuels are sourced from woodland, energy crops, clean wood waste and tree surgery. The exact mix of the biomass fuels will depend on the prevailing economic conditions. This flexibility allows the supplier to keep costs to a minimum and minimise risks of fuel supply disruption. Currently, the hierarchy in fuel prices is:- Tree Surgery Waste (lowest) < Recycled Packaging Waste < Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) Willow Chips < Forestry Chips < Miscanthus Pellets (highest).
What are fuel cells and how do they work?
Fuel cells convert chemical energy directly into electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen in a controlled reaction. They emit virtually no pollution as the products of this reaction are electricity, heat and water vapour. There are a number of fuel cell types of which the PEM (proton-exchange membrane) fuel cell is widely regarded as the most practical technology for many applications. Fuel cells are very expensive compared with many other technologies due primarily to the cost of the component pieces.