PV’s Bright Future

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There simply has never been a better time to invest in renewable energy and PV should be your technology of choice.

The past three years have been momentous for the British photovoltaic industry. The latest figures released by the Department for Climate Change (DECC) show that to date there has been just over 2.5GW of PV installed in the UK since April 2010. This is a startling achievement given the tumultuous road which the industry has had to travel in that time, yet it unquestionably reaffirms PV’s place in the public’s imagination as the renewable energy source of choice. Off course the vast majority of this deployment has been on domestic housing stock amply supplemented by a growing Ground Mounted PV industry. Large scale “solar farms” are beginning to spring up in the UK which is a welcome development but unquestionably the single biggest growth area which has yet to be tapped into properly is the commercial industrial sector of the market. What is undeniable however, is the sad fact that for small/medium businesses this photovoltaic revolution seems to be passing by.

You do not have to look too far to find a newspaper article decrying the “Big 6” energy companies’ perceived cartel on the British energy market. Energy price increases are now a regular headline on the nation’s broadsheets. In turn we then get conventional utility companies, many politicians and other vested interests scaremongering that energies such as solar and wind, which businesses may look to alleviate these costs, are hopelessly expensive and reliant on enormous subsidies. This is simply false, misleading and, in cases, pure lies. There has been a massively dramatic fall in the cost of installing renewable energy in the past few years. So dramatic, in fact, that they are now challenging the establishment of the energy industry. The energy companies are running scared and all they know is how to fight dirty. In fact it is highly likely that solar PV will be the single most inexpensive method of generating electricity within a few years

So why should a business consider investing in PV?

1.       PV will reduce your Energy costs immediately

As soon as your PV system is installed, you are saving money through not having to purchase the equivalent kWh’s from your energy supplier. And the beauty of PV is that it will generate most of its power when your energy usage and cost is at its greatest – during the day.

2.       It is a prudent investment

PV will deliver a return on investment of anywhere between 7-12 per cent dependant on system output from the Feed in Tariff alone. Compare this to the interest rates you would receive in a savings account, that is massive, then compare it to the return from a riskier investment like stock and it is a no brainer because there is no risk. The Feed in Tariff (FIT) rate you receive upon your system’s commissioning is locked in for 20 years – guaranteed!

3.       Improve your Green credentials

Okay it may appear to be a tacky and shallow slogan thought up my savvy marketing teams but being “seen to be green” really is worth considering.  In fact, despite consumers feeling the pinch in the current economic downturn, research shows that interest in environmentally responsible products remains significant – more than half of the consumers (54 per cent) say that they are buying more environmentally responsible products compared to two years ago; three per cent say they are buying less.  So there is a clear demand for “greener” goods which proves that there is some substance to this PR message.

4.       Insulate your business from rising energy costs

Energy costs are rising – simple. They are expected to continue to rise right out to 2040. A report published by the Ministry of Defence earlier this year declared that we are fast approaching the tipping point of Peak Oil production, and that this coupled with both an escalation in the demand for fossil fuels in developing countries and an increased volatility in the supply from the Middle East means we could be looking at Oil prices hitting the $500 per barrel mark. The consequences of this are scary, particularly for businesses. Investing in PV can certainly help to mitigate against this scenario.

Of course the next question to be raised by a business owner is “yes, yes, this is all great but how can we afford it?”, whilst the answer should most certainly begin with “how you can afford not to do it!!”. Thankfully, we, at Kingspan, have a little more substance to our offering. There is a range of different options when it comes to funding your renewables project. With PV it is a simple, no ‘brainer’ decision if you have the cash or access to the cash. The ROI’s are still very attractive as outlined previously and you have ownership of the PV system. However, we realise that in these treacherous economic times that funding for most businesses is a big issue. Kingspan can provide funded PV, whereby the building owner enters into a 25 year lease agreement with us, we install the PV, pay for it, and we claim the Feed in Tariff (FIT) and the business owner get all the electricity at a heavily discounted rate. There is also now an option whereby Kingspan can fund the full refurbishment of an existing roof and install a PV system so the client gets a new roof and a free PV system! With this range of options there is no real reason why businesses shouldn’t at least be considering PV. It’s time to take ownership of your energy.

By Ross McGuinness

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