What Is The Minimum Pricing Policy and How Does It Affect UK Solar Panel Purchases?

The EU protects European solar panel manufacturers by imposing a minimum price on Chinese imports. But by protecting European businesses through artificially raising the price of solar panel installation, is the EU failing to protect the environment?

Thanks to a devalued currency, government subsidies and a much larger-scale manufacturing industry, Chinese manufacturers can export solar panels to the UK at below the European production costs, potentially putting European competitors out of business. To keep European manufacturers competitive, the European Commission implemented punishing tariffs for Chinese exporters in 2013.

Yet allegations that large numbers of Chinese solar panels are still being dumped into European markets at illegal prices have fanned the flames of an already heated debate. With the yuan being devalued by a further 2% recently, the price difference between Chinese solar panels and their European counterparts will become even steeper.

What is the minimum pricing policy for solar panels?

The current rules stipulate that Chinese imports must comply with the minimum import price (MIP). The MIP ramps up the price of imported Chinese solar panels so that they are in line with the costs of solar panels manufactured in Europe. If the MIP weren’t in place, consumers would have access to cheaper solar panels, but European solar panel producers would go out of business.

The policy has been widely criticised for pushing up the price of green energy in Europe, and has been called “unfair protectionism” for European manufacturers. Solar panel installers argue that access to clean energy is so important to homeowners that the MIP should not be extended when it is up for review in December. In contrast, European solar manufacturers in favour of the MIP are set to launch a formal request for the policy to be extended in 2016.

What does this mean for solar panel buyers in the UK?


According to the latest estimates from industry experts, solar panel modules are more expensive in the EU than the global average, largely due to the MIP.

A solar panel that costs £5,333 in the UK might costs as little as £4,000 in the US – a price difference of £1,333. The recent yuan devaluation will increase that difference, given that China manufactured roughly 64% of the world’s solar PV panels last year.

The UK’s Renewable Energy Association (REA) has found that more than 50% of the installation costs of solar panels in the UK are due to the cost of solar panel modules, meaning that scrapping the MIP would considerably lower the price of solar panels for UK consumers.

Consumers tend to think of solar panels as a high-cost product, but what they often fail to realise is that these high prices are at least in part determined by EU policy rather than market forces. REA analyst Lauren Cook says that ending the MIP would help solar panels to be cost-effective even without government subsidies. She added that to deliver lower cost green energy, the MIP must not be extended past December of this year.

Those that are concerned about the environmental impact of producing a solar panel in China and shipping it all the way to England before installation should take heart though. A recent report reveals that a solar panel ‘pays back’ the energy and material cost of transportation and installation in just four years, then continues to produce clean energy for a further two decades.

At Complete Renewables, we specialise in the installation of LG solar panels because of their outstanding durability and incredible 25 year warranty. This guarantees that your solar panels will be generating at least 80.2% power output by the end of the 25th year. Learn more about the LG panels we install today!

Home Solar Panels Essex

How to Maximise the Efficiency of PV Panels: Should they Face South or West?

Despite what the Telegraph’s headlines suggest, south-facing solar panels generate more power than those facing west. But why are sections of the media and a small group of scientists rooting for west-facing panels?

Sensationalist Headlines

Telegraph managing editor Keith Perry says that according to energy experts, “thousands of people have spent vast sums of money installing eco-friendly solar panels but most will have probably had them fitted facing the wrong way.” As is often the case, probably is the key word here. Turns out that south-facing solar panels actually generate more electricity than west-facing solar panels, and whilst Perry probably knows this, his headline suggesting that the opposite is true is much more newsworthy, though also a little misleading.

The whole west is better than south argument first made waves back in November 2013 when a report from the Pecan Street Institute found that west-facing solar panels generated more electricity than south-facing solar panels for twenty four houses in Austin, Texas, but only over a three-month period. The same report concludes that over the course of a year south-facing solar panels provide “more total energy than other orientations.” Question marks have since been raised as to the report’s validity due to small sample size.

What’s the Argument for West?

West-facing solar panels don’t produce a higher energy yield than south-facing solar panels, but there is some credit to the idea that a mix of west-facing solar panels and south-facing solar panels might be better for the country in general. In Germany, the world leader for solar energy, so much energy is generated by solar panels at midday that the grid struggles to handle it. The German government is now advising people to build east and west-facing solar panels so that solar energy can be generated more evenly throughout the day

The same situation is occurring in Cornwall. Many people have built solar panels in the sunny Southwest and the grid is unable to handle any more energy. As such, they’ve had to reconsider construction for the time being. So whilst the individual homeowner gains more power from a south-facing solar panel, in places that already have a lot of solar panels it’s better for the grid to build east-facing or west-facing solar panels. It’s also worth considering that west-facing solar panels generate most of their energy in the afternoon, which is when demand for electricity generally peaks.

The government’s current feed-in-tariffs (FIT) pay out to homeowners based on the amount of electricity that they generate for the grid, with a typical system in the South of England generating an income of £330 plus savings annually. A homeowner with a south-facing panel will earn more through FIT than a homeowner with a west-facing panel. Unless the government changes the incentive system to reward west-facing solar panels, it’s unlikely that very many homeowners will opt for a less efficient, less financially rewarding placement of their solar panel.

What else to Watch out for?

In addition to to choosing a south-facing orientation, there are a number of other ways to maximise the efficiency of your PV solar panels:

  • Make sure that there are no shadows on your panels.
  • Make sure that there isn’t a layer of dust on your panels.
  • Keep your panels at the right temperature.
  • Although FITs are a nice source of income, it makes more financial sense to try and use the electricity that you generate, rather than sell it to the grid. If you have a south-facing grid, set your appliances to go to work at midday when you have plenty of solar energy available.

Of course, the most efficient way to use you PV panel is to get a fully automated solar tracking mount. This kind of mount follows the sun as it moves through the sky, so your panel is always facing the best possible angle. However, these kind of rigs can be expensive, so until the price comes down your best bet is probably sticking with a south-facing panel!

Are you interested to know how much money you could save with renewable energy? You can either keep reading our blog, or speak to a member of the team at 01621 827015.

Solar panels being fitted to church roof

How Much Can You Save with Renewable Energy?

Solar panels being fitted to church roof

We all know that renewable energy is good for the environment, but did you know that it can be good for your wallet too? Not only will you save on energy bills, but a range of incentives means that homeowners are paid by the government for renewable energy produced on their property or for investing in renewable energy heating systems. Want to find out how much you can earn? Read our blog to find out more.

1. Generation Tariff

A supplier will pay you for electricity generated by solar panels on your home – even if you choose to use all of it yourself! The going rate for approved solar panels, and at Complete Renewables we are always happy to check eligibility, is 14.9p per kilowatt-hour, which averages out to £540 per year on a typical system, according to Money Saving Expert. Nice!

2. Export Tariff

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there’s a bonus 4.6p for every kilowatt-hour that you don’t use – or ‘export’ back into the grid. Under the current system, most energy suppliers don’t bother to fit you with an export/import meter to calculate exactly how much you export back into the grid. Instead they assume that you export 50% of the energy your solar panels produce – meaning additional bonus savings of £90 per year on average, even if you use all the energy for yourself.

3. Energy Bills

It’s no secret that energy bills are predicted to rise massively over the next twenty years, as we continue to rely on ever-dwindling stocks of fossil fuels. However, this means that for those who invest in solar panels, savings will rise massively too! The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the current rate of saving for a typical family is £125 per year  – good now, and it’s only going to get better.

4. Complete Renewables’s Summer Sale!

We are currently offering PV Solar Panels for under £6,000 to some customers in our summer sale, meaning that now is a great time to invest in solar panels. Our typical 4 Kilowatt system will earn you a profit of £1,600 in your first ten years, and an incredible £7,600 in the second ten years! This represents a healthy 14% investment, which is good for both the planet and for your finances.

5. Renewable Heat Incentive 

The savings and incentives don’t end with solar panels. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the world’s first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat. The government will pay you between £600 and a massive £2,300 to invest in a renewable heat source, including solar heating system and ground source pumps.

Solar thermal heating nets you £600 with the RHI, in addition to providing a family of four with up to 65% of their hot water needs, according to STA. If

you are a household of two, no need to panic, we can fit you with just one solar thermal panel, which provides you with free solar heated water for 70% of your hot water needs.

Interested in Saving Money and the Planet Yet?

How often do you get a chance to both make money and help the planet both at the same time? Renewable energy is a win-win move, so contact Complete Renewables today and see how much you could save!

Solar PV - Ground Mounted

Why is Renewable Energy Needed?

solar PV panelsThe world is dependent on fossil fuels for it’s energy supply. Currently, fossil fuels account for 80% of the world’s energy consumption. However, fossil fuels take millions of years to form and our reserves are depleting rapidly. This means that fossil fuels are non-renewable resources and society needs to find an alternative energy supply.

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is energy which comes from a natural source and is not depleted when used. Renewable energies include wind, wave and solar power. In the UK, we have copious amounts of wind and waves, and a little bit of sunshine, available to us. Why not make the most of that? The UK is currently making good progress with more people wanting to install solar panels on their roofs and wind farms being set up around the country.

There are many reasons for society to switch to renewable forms of energy.

Fossil Fuels are a Finite Resource

Fossil fuels are running out fast. Unfortunately, the world’s infrastructure is reliant on fossil fuels. They power electricity plants, heat our homes and provide fuel for our cars. Eventually, fossil fuels will run out entirely or become too expensive for people to afford. But you can’t change energy resources overnight! Switching to renewable energy takes time.

Fossil Fuels Contribute to Climate Change

Research shows that burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change, often referred to as ‘global warming.’ Though there is still more research to be done, we know that releasing so much carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere is causing severe weather problems. These include melting polar ice caps, wildfires in the USA and heat waves across Europe and in India.

Scientists are saying that to avoid catastrophic changes to the planet, we must start reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels in the next 10 years…

Renewable Energy is Better for the Environment

Fossil fuels not only cause climate change, but are also damaging the environment through land, water and air pollution. An example of this is air pollution caused by burning coal. Burning coal releases fine particles that can cause respiratory health problems if they are inhaled. These pollutants become part of the water cycle and create acid rain, which pollutes water, ruins land and corrodes buildings.

Arguably, renewable energy sources also affect the environment. For instance, wind turbines can impact migrating birds and dams can disrupt ecology of surrounding areas. However, the negative impacts are far less than those of fossil fuels and renewable energy is undoubtedly better for the environment overall.

Renewable Energy makes Economic Sense

Renewable energy not only makes environmental sense, but also economic sense. By switching 70% of the planet’s electricity production to renewable alternatives, Greenpeace estimates the world’s economy would save $180 billion per year.

The renewable energy industry is increasing employment opportunities worldwide and is gaining a lot of investment. In Germany, renewable energy accounts for a quarter of the nation’s energy consumption. As a result, renewable energy industries have created 380,000 new jobs. In the USA, solar power workers currently outnumber coal miners.

Renewable Energy can be Self-Sufficient

Currently, people are no control of their energy supply. They can chose which company to purchase their electricity from, but they have no means of creating their own energy supply. With renewable energy systems, people can have complete control.

The average person is able to buy their own solar thermal panels or an air source heat pump for their own home. Being in complete control of your energy means that you are not affected by changes in price or shortages from electricity or gas companies. In fact, installing solar panels can shave £223 off your annual electricity bill. With renewable energy, you can be entirely self-sufficient.

Renewable Energy is the Future

Renewable energy is the only way forward. There are many benefits of switching to renewable sources, primarily the fact that non-renewable energy sources will run out and there won’t be any other option. Renewable energy will never run out, and will therefore be able to supply our children and their children with the energy they need.

Complete installation of solar panels on roof in Essex

Church Solar Panel Installation – Commercial Feed-In Tariff

Church roof mounted solar panelsOver the last year we’ve been working with Crowstone St. George United Reformed Church to install a 12.5 kW system. Larger projects such as these are necessarily more complicated and so can take some time to complete. In the case of Crowstone church, there were various internal factors which added to consultation time prior to installation process. Such factors are based on board approval, general announcements/notice time and revenue raising. During this time we are often called on to provide more information and even sometime present information to various groups. We’re always happy to take this time to do this. We appreciate that when many people are involved, and when the interests are broader than a private installation, it pays to take the time to ensure that every aspect is covered.
Solar panels being fitted to church roofThe installation itself was for an array of 50 250W panels, with an estimated yield of 10,730kWh per year. The Feed-In tariff is available for commercial entities for an amended amount. This still represents a great investment. For commercial organisations the Feed-In tariff will provide a significant long-term revenue yield. Installations of this type are also popular for farmers, supermarkets and most large buildings. Whereas domestic households use most electricity during the evening and at weekends, commercial premises generally use their power during the day. This can represent significant saving as less power is returned to the grid and instead used on site.
As you can image installing 50 panels on a historic church’s roof involves a great deal of responsibility and careful treading. Scaffolding was installed to ensure that our workmen had easy access to all aspects of the church’s roof. Furthermore we took great care when working with tiles of this age.

We are happy to report that the church installation was a resounding success. The job was completed in under a week, in keeping with our agreed timetable. The system is currently running and generating a healthy return for the church.

Complete installation of solar panels on roof in Essex

Solar Panel roof installation essex

Why are solar panels not a more popular option for home owners?

Home energy costs are on the rise, especially given the recent cold winter. Furthermore it’s hard to find any strong indicator that gas and electricity prices are set to decrease. Even the expected boost in gas production from shale gas is not assured (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22300050)

On the other hand solar panel installations have never been cheaper; Complete Renewables are now offering 16 panel 4kW arrays starting at under £6,000. The Feed-In tariff is still providing government back payments, leading to returns of over 12%.

There’s also technological innovations such as Solar Cache, which allows homeowners to divert unused electricity generated during the day to heat their hot water. This can represent significant saving, especially for families who are mostly not at home during the day.

When solar is combined with other renewable technologies, there is yet more potential to save both money and energy. For example many of our customers who choose to install ground or air source heat pumps also install solar.

With this list of benefits, why doesn’t every roof have a panel array? Well there’s the obvious reasons; lack of funds, rental properties, short-term occupancy.  However this only discounts a minority of homes. One explanation we hear often is that homeowners believe they have ‘missed the boat’, that the Feed-In tariff used to a great deal, now it is hardly worth it. It is true that the Feed-In tariff was once more generous, however it still does still represent a quantifiably strong investment. Returns average around 12%, there are very few alternative options with these kind of guaranteed returns. The bank certainly won’t match those figures.

How about the lack of understanding that seems to shroud the industry? There has always been a stigma associated with renewable energies. The same scepticism that wind and wave generated power suffer from. Even heat pumps suffer this: ‘How can heat pumps possibly work in cold weather?’ is a question we hear often. The general public can often be reluctant to believe that a new technology which harnesses solar power (even indirectly, such as wind and heat pumps) can create the necessary power, in the way fossil fuels can. This is, of course, despite the fact that fossil fuels originate their energy from the sun themselves – organic compounds, etc.

It’s not that renewable technologies are any more complicated. Maybe it’s that mostly we’ve all lived through their infancy and development. We’ve heard the anecdotes about wind turbines that cost more in energy to construct than they’ll generate in their lifespan. Although maybe this points to another issue; a generally unenthusiastic media – when did you last read a positive story about renewable energy in the press? Maybe it’s just easier and more appealing to note the negative story. Let’s face it, our media is more interested in what’s going wrong than what’s going right.

Solar Panels Roof

The Attractiveness of Roof Mounted Solar Panels

Solar panel installations have been one of our most popular products since the advent of the feed-in tariff. And within Essex we are one of the most experienced installers operating. Solar PV is still proving extremely popular. Despite the reduction of the feed-in tariff, a good installation can represent a 12% return on investment, far more than savings accounts. Furthermore recent developments such as immersion controller units (which heat your water when the sun shines) increase potential energy savings.

The interesting thing about the solar installation on our eco house is that the panels are fitted into the tiles. This allows a closer mount to the roof itself. Behind the panels the roof is not tiled, instead the panels fit into a tray mounted on the rafters. This allows for the requisite airflow (to aid cooling) whilst providing for a close fit to the roof itself. The advantage of this is purely aesthetic, there are no performance gains. This set-up is popular with new builds which have been designed with solar in mind, which is increasingly becoming the case. It is less popular with existing roofs, i.e. retrofits. Due to the extensive amount of work that has to be carried out to an existing roof to fit the trays, it is more often than not cost prohibitive.

As the attached photo shows, flush black panels set against a slate roof creates a handsome look. On a related note I do believe that peoples attitudes to the attractiveness of roof mounted solar panels are changing. Initially they were considered something of an aberration on an otherwise perfectly nondescript roof (lets face it, most roofs are wholly unexciting). However as they have become more prolific, not only have they gained acceptance, but they also create a feature. When installed thoughtful, i.e. not disrupting the natural symmetry of a roof, they provide a focus point for attention. They reveal a forward thinking home owner, someone interested in make steps towards protecting the environment and themselves from rising energy bills.
Solar Panels Roof