Forster Energy helps off-grid Morayshire residents benefit from free solar powered electricity

The solar power PV arrays installed by Forster Energy in Garmouth.
The solar power PV arrays installed by Forster Energy in Garmouth.

Residents in Garmouth, Morayshire are now receiving free electricity through solar-electricity-generating (PV) panels installed on their roof.

Eleven x eight-panel (2kWp) solar PV systems have been fitted on the most southerly facing roof of each home by Brechin-based Forster Energy.

A power diverter was also fitted, meaning that any solar-generated-electricity not used by residents is diverted to heat their hot water tank, further reducing the amount of electricity they need to buy-in from their energy supplier during the day.

In order to help residents get the most out of the free electricity generated by the panels on their roof, Forster Energy also provided an eight page guide full of useful tips. The eight panel systems could save residents as much as £200, depending on how much electricity they use during day-light hours.

“This is what really sold it to us”, explained Jane McWhirr, Energy Support Officer at Aiberdeenshire-based landlord Osprey Housing, “as it means that all tenants will benefit, regardless of whether or not they are at home during the day.

“This is an ideal solution for these properties, which due to being off the gas grid, tend to have high electricity bills.”

“It’s brilliant to hear that our tenants are already seeing the benefit of the new PV systems, and the improvement in the energy efficiency rating has meant that these homes are now meeting EESSH (Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing). Following the success of this, our first programme of solar PV, we are now considering rolling out PV programmes across other schemes.”

Steve Scott, Forster Energy Managing Director, said: “PV provides a great solution for meeting the EESSH and tacking fuel poverty. It is cost effective and less intrusive than other measures and can have a significant impact on the energy efficiency ratings of homes and other buildings”.

The project was delivered through the newly established Scottish Procurement Alliance Energy Efficiency and Refurbishment framework.

Meanwhile, a new industry analysis shows that the standard method for financing large scale solar PV schemes in the UK is no longer economically viable.

An estimated two-thirds of the UK’s 12GW solar capacity has been built using this method – known as ‘Power Purchase Agreements’ – where solar farms or large commercial rooftops contract to sell their power to a third party.

However, only modest Government intervention is needed to enable large-scale solar to access the UK market again.

The industry is seeking a new auction round so that the cheapest renewables can compete on a level playing field for Contracts for Difference, enabling the best deal for consumers.

Modest but urgent reforms are also needed to Feed-In Tariffs, costing only £6million over this parliament, to boost solar deployment on large commercial roof tops. The industry is also seeking fair tax treatment for rooftop solar. Taken together the measures could get the solar industry back on track to zero subsidy by 2020.

David Pickup, Policy Manager at the Solar Trade Association, explained: ‘The UK solar industry has been challenged to deliver subsidy free solar but, as our detailed analysis shows, this is not yet possible for mainstream projects.

“Even terrific financial innovation cannot get around hard economics; large-scale solar still needs just a little support from Government to provide consumers with one of the cheapest sources of clean power.”

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