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Guide to Grants for Solar Panels UK

Solar PanelsWant to reduce your fuel bills and help the environment by installing solar panels? Before you get started find out if you’re eligible for solar power grants here.

Although solar energy grants aren’t as easy to come by as they used to be, there are still some ways you can get money off the hefty cost of buying and installing panels in your property.

As green energy became more popular in the early-2000’s and home-owners were keen to chip in and reduce their carbon footprint, grants for solar panels were widespread in both the public and private sector. Since the 2008 economic crisis, however, there has been a dwindling in support for these energy-saving initiatives and other solar grants, and some residents are finding it difficult to finance this sort of installation despite its good intentions. So how do you get solar thermal grants that help contribute to the financial aspect of such a high-scale, home-improvement installation project these days?

Solar Panels Grants UK

Although you won’t find solar PV grants readily available anymore, you can still make some money from the government Feed-in Tariff if you choose to install them. The tariff pays you a small amount for every Kilowatt Hour of electricity your panels generate.

In 2010, the government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) replaced the existing solar power grants scheme with the new Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) rules that are used today. Under the old system, home-owners and council tenants had to fulfil a range of eligibility criteria not dissimilar to the current regulations that still remain for other types of government help (such as with wall insulation grants). This would prove whether or not an individual lacked the financial resources to get the project off the ground right away, and therefore whether or not they would benefit with additional solar heating grants.

Under the new FIT scheme, government grants for solar panels have more or less been scrapped and replaced with single monthly (or annual) payments after installation is complete. These payments are adjusted according to how much electricity you generate (a Generation Tariff) and how much you ‘sell’ back to the National Grid (an Export Tariff). According to the Energy Saving Trust website, the current figures for repayments for those who had solar panels fitted before July 1st 2013 are as follows:

  • Generation Tariff (money for electricity generated and used) – anywhere between 6.35-14.9p per kw/h, depending on the size of your home and the number of solar panels you have.
  • Export Tariff (money for electricity generated and sold back to the National Grid) – 3.1p per kw/h.

*All figures sourced from the Energy Saving Trust website. Accurate as of December 2013.

In lieu of ordinary solar panel grants for homeowners, these repayments are usually guaranteed for a minimum 25-year period, which could see you make some huge savings on your electricity bill while still earning a bit of extra cash on the side. Still, solar panels aren’t for all homes (especially smaller properties and those with north-facing roofs), and without the old solar energy grants system in place installation could cost you anywhere in the realm of £7000 to £11,000.

Solar Thermal Grants

If you want to install solar thermal panels to produce hot water, you could receive a grant of £600 towards the cost of installing them through the government’s Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme. To be eligible for one of these solar heating grants, you need to meet the following conditions:

  • You must be willing to have an energy survey carried out or a meter installed to provide the government with information about solar power savings.
  • You must live in England, Scotland or Wales.
  • You should either own the property you want to install solar thermal panels in or have permission to do so from the owner.
  • The property must be your main home and solar heating should be intended to act as your main heating system.
  • If necessary, you must have been awarded planning permission to install solar panels.
  • Your solar panels must be installed and produced by a certified solar company; for example by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme or Solar Keymark Scheme.
  • The property must be energy efficient; so it should have double glazed windows and loft insulation, for example.
  • You need to have a Green Deal Assessment carried out before you can get solar grants; see below for more information on this.

You can apply for government grants for solar panels through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme online. Just visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) website and fill in the form. If your application is successful you’ll receive a voucher within ten days; your installer can then fit the panels for you.

After installation you can send your voucher, along with an invoice, copy of Microgeneration Certification Scheme Certificate and Green Deal Assessment to the DECC, who will transfer the grant into your bank account within 31 working days.

Solar Grants and the Green Deal

Most solar panel grants for homeowners have been replaced by the government’s Green Deal. This scheme provides cash up front for households to install energy efficient home improvements such as insulation, double glazing and installing renewable energy solutions such as solar panels.

To take part in the scheme you need to have a Green Deal Assessment carried out by an approved Green Deal provider, who will then arrange for the work to be carried out and paid for. The catch is that you then have to pay the loan back over time through your energy bills or a repayment meter; make sure you understand fully the rules of repayment before you take out a Green Deal loan.

If you’re not certain whether or not solar panels are the right kind of project for your home, be sure to hire a housing surveyor to come round and inspect the property first; just to make sure it’s a worthwhile home-improvement investment that won’t see you losing out and wishing you had access to one of those old solar pv grants that are now discontinued.

Related Articles: Cost to install solar panel, Guide to building regulations part L

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