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[ Green opportunities: FITs ]

of health, safety and environment at the ECA. ‘If you have the capital, there really is no reason why you wouldn’t opt for it. It is a fantastic incentive and we are expecting a bonanza in terms of solar PV in 2011,’ says Reeve.

Getting started So what do you need to do to get involved? ‘Registration with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is the key starting point,’ explains John Corcoran, regional education and training manager with the ECA. ‘The MCS lays down the requirements for any firm looking to design, supply or install renewable technologies. Then there are further requirements for each technology area – solar PV, air source heat pumps and so on.’ Contractors can join up with MCS-registered scheme

providers such as ELECSA to qualify for MCS approval. Any installation seeking to get funding from the FITs initiative has to use MCS-approved suppliers and contractors. Harvey Electrical is one ECA firm that is benefiting

from the upsurge in solar PV installations. CEO Steve Harvey was so taken with the technology when looking into solar PV for his own greenhouse that he set up a sister firm, Anolis Renewable Energy, to concentrate on the sector. The firm is MCS accredited through ELECSA, but warns contractors not to expect work simply to fly in through the window. ‘The solar PV market is not like traditional electrical contracting,’ says Harvey. ‘We are having to explore areas such as networking and e-commerce that are totally new to us. Also we are competing with a completely different set of companies – we have gone into their business, not them into ours.’ Harvey is certainly among the early adopters. The

number of firms that are MCS accredited has shot up in recent months, but still totals less than 800. Harvey estimates that only around 15 per cent of those are electrical contractors. Dimplex is one supplier that expects this to become

a mainstream electrical contracting activity very soon, and it has recently launched its own solar PV range (see box). ‘If we are going to see the kind of volume of PV installations that the government wants, then they need the mainstream electrical sector to take part,’ says Chris Davis, business development director at Dimplex Renewables. ‘We are seeing a phenomenal level of interest from the market, and the work is there for contractors prepared to invest the time and money required.’ Steve Harvey recommends setting up a separate

division: ‘Fund it for three or four months and put two or three staff in that are dedicated to the business.’ He admits that he is still learning, but the knowledge he has acquired has benefited Harvey Electrical as well as Anolis.

Future Certainly, the tariffs will remain in the short term as an incentive to stimulate demand for PV. Osborne’s Spending Review revealed that FITs will be refocused on ‘the most cost-effective technologies’, saving £40m,

Renewables in numbers


– The UK target is to source 15 per cent of its

energy from renewable sources by 2020.


80 4.3

– At the end of 2007, around five per cent of the UK’s total electricity came from renewable sources, compared to 1.8 per cent in 2002 when the Renewables Obligation was introduced.


billion – Achieving renewable energy

targets could provide £100 billion worth of investment opportunities and up to half a million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020.

– Scotland’s renewable electricity target for

the next decade is 80 per cent by 2020.

trillion – The value of the global low carbon

economy is estimated to reach some £4.3 trillion by the middle of this decade.

Case study: Dimplex enters solar PV market

Dimplex Renewables is adding to its portfolio with the launch of a new range of solar photovoltaic (PV) packages. Containing polycrystalline modules and everything required for installation, the kits offer a complete PV solution for residential and light commercial buildings. The kits contain everything that’s needed to install and

connect the modules, including G83 approved inverter, roof mounting system, cabling, isolators and generation meter. The hardware is MCS-accredited, so the kits are eligible for the feed-in tariffs when properly installed by an MCS-accredited installer. Designed for both new build and retrofit projects,

the packs feature low profile roof mounts – protruding less than 200mm above the roof. This means the installed systems are classed as permitted development in England and Scotland and do not require planning permission in non-conservation areas. The polycrystalline modules have a surface area of 1.6m2, which is greater than most modules available

and deliver an output of 230W, with a module efficiency of 14.2 per cent. The modules are supplied with a product warranty of five years and offer guaranteed 95 per cent performance for five years and 80 per cent performance for 25 years. Dimplex offers Logic Certification-approved solar PV

training courses at its headquarters in Southampton for installers wanting to get an industry-recognised installation qualification.

You can’t simply sit back and wait for things to happen. Contractors need to understand this technology, as their clients will be asking for it

but not until 2014-15. Just what the most cost effective technologies are will be reviewed in 2012. ‘The amount of support for PV in future may be affected as a result of the forthcoming review,’ says Paul Reeve. ‘Currently, there is no indication that the current rate of FITs, notably for PV, will change. ‘In the short term, it may lead to even bigger demand

for PV installation, since the current commitment and rates are in place,’ argues Reeve. ‘However, changes to FITs (real or perceived) may also lead to customer uncertainty, which may in turn affect installers’ medium- term business models.’ Either way, while opportunities exist, it makes sense for members to take full advantage of them.

Winter 2010 ECA Today 23

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