Feed-in tariff cuts could signal a comeback for solar thermal

 The coalition government’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for new solar PV installations cut could lead to comeback for solar thermal sales, according to one of UK’s leading manufacturers of heating equipment.

The prediction, from Worcester, Bosch Group, comes in the wake of a more than 50 per cent cut in the FiT which is the result of a 35 per cent drop in solar PV installation costs, according to the government, over the last twelve months.

The drop in unit cost for solar PV installations prices has encouraged the government to cut the Feed-in Tariff to a new reduced rate of 21p/kWh, which will come into force from April 1st 2012.  In addition, the government has added the proviso that householders must bring their property up to an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of Level C or above in order to qualify for the tariff.

However, there is growing belief that the FiT cut could lead to a comeback for solar thermal sales which have been decimated in recent months.  Figures from the Solar Trade Association last year suggested that many members were reporting a 75% or more reduction in solar thermal sales due to the FiT and uncertainty over the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Neil Schofield, Head of External and Governmental Affairs at Worcester Bosch commented:  “The government’s decision to cut the Feed-in Tariff is understandable with the significant drop in solar PV installation costs.  What’s more the decision to link the tariff to the energy performance rating of a property will ensure that public money is not being wasted on properties which are inadequately insulated and you can’t argue with that.”

He continued:  “The announcement could also have a positive effect on solar thermal sales which remain a very viable and cost-effective option for householders to reduce their energy bills.”