The German solar panel revolution
“Germany is the world leader in the implementation of solar panel technology into its everyday infrastructure.”
In fact, it was a train journey to Salzburg in 2003 which persuaded me that solar panels were the future, to quote a horrible cliche. They were everywhere, and so after getting home and researching why, I found that Germany had, in fact, been promoting solar panels through their pioneering feed-in tariff scheme since 1997.
The German solar panel market still remains the most exciting in the world, with the success forming the blueprint for countries like the UK today. Since its inception, Germany now has over 17,000MW capacities installed. One of the main reasons for this success is the market is generous with the feed-in tariff rewards.
The UK solar feed-in tariff began in April 2010. This was a huge move forward for the green energy industry, which was before then pretty much a cottage industry. The perceived novelty factor by people in the UK, it took a while to get off the ground, yet once word spread, anyone can get rewarded for owning technology like solar panels, installations sprung up in their hundreds.
The German government has clear intent on making its green energy policy function in order to cut the country’s dependence on imported fuels and to cut its carbon footprint, while increasing the amount of green jobs and promoting the green industry to the best of its ability.
Stuart Lovatt from Heat my Home adds “The feed-in tariff scheme has proven itself in Germany, and the same level of success can be achieved here in the UK over the coming years. What people do not realise, is the scheme is designed to deteriorate over time, thus rewarding earlier adopters the most and later adopters the least.”
I think it is important for UK home owners and potential solar adopters to see that the current feed-in tariff scheme has worked and made a large difference to a country much like our own in terms of technology and climate.
There is a serious window of opportunity for energy savvy people who want to pioneer, earn money and increase the value of their homes too. A whole industry is springing up including companies offering free solar panels, but why?
Free solar panels offers
One unexpected symptom of the feed-in tariff scheme is the emergence of free solar panel companies.
These companies are wooing homeowners into signing over their roofs and the tariffs financial benefits for themselves. My advice to anyone thinking about signing up to such a scheme would be thinking seriously about how this will fit into your lifestyle.
If you are out of your home most of the day, then you will not benefit from the free power as much as you may think. The solar panels will be produced, but the power will only be creating revenue for the solar company.
The return on investment is currently around 10% by solar which is why the aforementioned companies are so eager to give expensive solar panels away, although technically they are not giving them away because the company will still own them and the roof they sit on contractually.
Another major complication is selling your home. With someone else solar panels attached to your roof, potential buyers will be put off. If there is any likely hood of selling your home within the next 20 years, then this type of free solar scheme is not for you.
Our advice is, not to be hasty and read any potential free solar panels. Contract fully. Understand all the potential pitfalls and possible future implications, these may have on your home.
The allure of free energy in today’s climate sounds wonderful, but you have to keep in mind, that these companies are not doing this for your benefit but only their own. If you really want to benefit from solar panel technologies, install yourself, own yourself, and reap the rewards yourself.
"Feel the pride."Stuart Lovatt February 24, 2011
Founder of Heat My Home.