Current affairs

By guest columnist Bill Wright, head of energy solutions, Electrical Contractors’ Association

Many renewable energy contractors have struggled in recent years, due to the difficult combination of recession and low consumer confidence sparked by cuts to the Feed-in Tariff. However, PV systems still offer a compelling rate of return for clients and an ongoing opportunity for electrical contractors.  Despite the recent FiT degression, the lower price of PV cells and associated equipment mean the rate of return for clients can still be around 6-8 percent – tax free.  What other current investment can give this rate of return?  The recent spat between the EU and China over the price of PV cells appears to be resolved, with China agreeing to a minimum cost of cells.  However there are many other suppliers of PV cells other than China and the price could still fall further. In addition to the domestic market, there has also been renewed interest in large scale PV installations, so the future for PV still looks good.

But there is, of course, more to renewables than PV.  The coming of domestic RHI tariffs in 2014 and the increase in non-domestic tariffs are also boosting customer interest in heat pumps and biomass systems.  Heat pumps offer a compelling alternative system to oil or off gas grid heating systems and their installation involves a significant amount of electrical work.  In addition to stand-alone renewables installation, the Green Deal has been set up to provide part funding for the installation of PV and renewable heating.  All this means that many electrical contractors will be looking a lot wider than PV for their future order book.