New Name For Department Sees Climate Change Importance Grow in Government

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Denis Naughten said the department would be known as the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the transfer of functions from the previous Department of Environment, Community and Local Government was completed. Mr Naughten said the transfer of the environment function allowed the synergies between climate and sustainable energy policy to be fully realised.
“It brings a coherence across the various policy areas involved, and will ensure that Ireland addresses the challenges in ways that are technically feasible, cost-effective and fair in terms of Ireland’s contribution to the overall EU ambition.’’

Mr Naughten said the Government would continue to strive to protect Ireland’s energy supply, generation, security, affordability and sustainability, and to ensure Ireland complied with international energy and climate-change policies. The Minister was replying to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, the very man that opened the Activ8 Solar Energies headquarters in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan all of 7 years ago. Eamon Ryan has said including “environment’’ in the title would allow Mr Naughten in his ministerial duties to “grab the power and grow the department, to strengthen and empower it within Government’’.

We tend to agree with Mr. Ryan to the extent that not only should the word “environment” be included in the title of the department, it should be intertwined throughout each department, rather than isolated on its own. However, this move will allow Minister Naughten to approach other departments in his ministerial position with a view to discussing the impact renewable energy may have on their day-to-day operations and where improvements can be made. This can only be seen as a positive step in relation to the growth of the solar power industry in Ireland. Although steps have already been realised in this regard, with state bodies including solar pv on new builds of all descriptions, from schools to council buildings, it is important that we keep pushing the potential of solar pv for electricity generation in Ireland given our generous annual solar yield and ability to produce substantial amounts of solar electricity from solar pv systems across the country, with the highest yields experienced in the sunny South East.

Although solar isn’t the only show in town, it is important to note the ministers hesitations in relation to wind turbines. The Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources said he accepted a significant number of people had objections to wind turbines, with a view to further consultation on the technology and infrastructure. "There is an issue in relation to wind turbines, there is absolutely no doubt about that," he said. "We also have the potential rollout of solar power as well, in relation to electricity generation," he added. The latter part of this statement bodes well for solar growth in Ireland.


Solar PV In Focus - Recent Installation Points The Way Forward

We recently featured in a piece covering the installation of an Activ8 Solar PV System on the roof of St. Clare’s Abbey Primary & Nursery School in Co. Down, one of our latest Solar PV installations. Gary Connolly, from our PV department discussed the challenges that presented themselves during the initial construction of this project. With extensive PV experience, we were able to change the design to suit this exact installation, opting for a GSE ‘In Roof’ integrated roof-mounting system, which fits into the roof rather than sitting up above it.
It is less obtrusive and more aesthetically pleasing.

Our experience has allowed us to work with many different types of structures and roofing compositions. The challenging aspect of our St. Clare’s installation was the Kingspan slate and tile support system. This meant that all regular mounting systems compromised the weather-tightness of the roof.
This level of weather-tightness could only secured through this installation. Gary and our team were delighted with the solution as it looked extremely well on roof and naturally complimented the architectural styling of the building.

Another aspect of the installation that was very important to us, as it is with all of our PV installations, is the ability to monitor the system going forward. We worked with the MGA Communications crew to integrate the monitoring of the system into the onsite BMS.

This project is another feather in the cap of our PV Department here at Activ8 Solar Energies as it adds to the vast array of PV work we have completed to date. As part of this installation we used a Solis 3 phase inverter, boasting a highly efficient yield curve, 2 MPPT Trackers and a 10-year warranty - which is five more than the industry standard. Not to mention our main solar PV panel of choice, the Suntech 270w black mono solar panels, the best in the business with their Bloomberg Tier 1 rating. We’ve worked on projects as big as 100kWh systems on cinemas, right down to Part L compliant 1 kWp systems on new-build housing developments throughout Ireland.

It is important to us that each and every job is approached in the same manner. With this in mind, we see a lot of new-build solar PV opportunities arising with the heavily publicised housing shortage in Ireland at the moment. With the growth of the economy and high demand for quality housing, we feel that solar PV in Ireland presents a great opportunity for developers looking towards Part L compliance in their upcoming developments.

We are the only ISO accredited dedicated solar installer in Ireland at present and with extensive experience of over 7,000 installations across the island itself, we are in an excellent position to consult, design and install solar on new developments.
To read our featured piece on St. Clares Primary School, click here.


What ISO 9001 Actually Means for Customers

We spoke recently at our delight in attaining ISO 9001 accreditation, something that most people recognise. When people see the ISO stamp, they know they are dealing with a well oiled organisation rather than a one-man band. The ISO 9001 is an accolade that directly reflects our commitment to our "Quality Management Systems". When we set out with our blog, we wanted it to become a source of information rather than a sales tool. With over 10 years' worth of experience in the solar industry, we feel that we can bring that experience to the public and we can help educate those who are interested in the renewable power of solar. In this regard, we wanted to share the journey towards ISO accreditation, what it really means to get it and help you understand what it means for our customers and those of you interested in what we offer.

As I've already alluded to, ISO 9001 was a direct reflection of our "Quality Management Systems". This means that every single process within the company was scrutinised for best practice; from how we process orders, contact customers, our reporting, right down to how we file everything! But it was a process that allowed us to really focus on one of our strengths; customer service. With stringent processes, it meant we became even more confident that we could strengthen what we call "Our Promise".

Testament to this, was a recent customer review we received regarding our service. This isn't so much about the review itself, but it reflects the work that went into securing our ISO 9001 accreditation and definitely makes it worth it.....

A few weeks ago, my wife called to me from the kitchen. She was alarmed at the sight of a steady drip of water splashing on the tiled floor. Directly above the spot there is a Velux skylight and we immediately assumed that this must be the source of the leak. We threw down some cloths to soften the impact of the drips and contain the splashes. By next morning, when the rain had stopped during the night, the leak had stopped and the floor was dry.

A period of dry weather followed and we put the matter out of our minds. Inevitably, when rain returned the leak came with it. What should we do? Let’s have a word with Dave, the man who fitted the Velux nearly ten years ago.

The rain stopped again and we forgot about contacting Dave. Then the penny dropped! It was only five weeks since we had our brand new solar panels fitted by Activ8 Solar Energies of Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan. They had been all over our roof installing the panels and it was too much of a coincidence, we thought, for the leak to be unconnected with that work, even though it was falling from the opposite side of the roof.

On the Monday, I phoned Tara at Activ8 and she arranged for Eugene to get back to me. Eugene phoned that afternoon and by Wednesday his men were on the roof looking for the leak. They found a cracked tile near the Velux, which clearly was in that condition long before the solar panels were fitted; there was moss growing in the crack. Before they reported their find to me they had replaced the offending tile with one left over from the installation of the panels.

I was so impressed that I sent this e-mail to Activ8: –

“Many thanks for following up on my request for inspection of my roof for possible damage arising from your installation work.

As the lads discovered the leak was caused by an old break in a tile not affected by your work; but they were good enough to replace it with one of the redundant tiles.

Please let me know if there is any payment required,

Once again, thank you all.”

Next day I received the following e-mail from Activ8:-

“Thanks for your email, we appreciate the offer for payment but this is part of our service we promised to you. Thanks again and if you have any questions in relation to your system in the future please feel free to email me back or give us a call.

Kind regards
Aidan”

Now that’s what I call customer service!

"Customer service". It should be pretty obvious what it entails when you read those two words. Unfortunately, it isn't guaranteed everywhere you go. Be careful what you read, and be wary of what you're offered. We base our customer service on 'Our Promise' and we back it up with our awards. Now when you see our ISO mark, you know what it means and how we got it.


2015: The Warmest Year on Record - How Solar Can Help

It has emerged, in line with the yearly trends, that 2015 was the hottest year that the planet Earth as a whole has experienced since the creation of reliable records in 1880. As a company positioned in the renewable energy business, this brings up a number of questions, issues and general discussion points about how statistics like this effect what we at Activ8 Solar Energies do as a company.

First and foremost, our products help offset climate change, be it through the installation of domestic solar panels or commercial solar PV systems. Either way, we’re helping people generate their own electricity in a renewable, affordable and sustainable fashion.

Coming back to the emerging climate statistics of 2015, the Earth as a whole is getting warmer - that much we know is a fact. Ten of 2015’s 12 months set new all time temperature records. And the 21st Century in particular has been scorching: 15 of the 16 warmest years ever to be recorded have occurred since 2001. The evidence indicates that this warming is primarily created by our activity as a species - that is another uncomfortable fact. We do however, have the natural resources and technological know how available to us to replace our existing and armful practices of energy creation, therefore offsetting our use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions - this again is a fact.

Why opt for Solar Power Now?

Well the Earth is getting warmer and that in itself is a problem. Temperatures are increasing and you are in a  position where you can do something about it whilst generating your own energy and cutting down on the cost of your energy bills. Contrary to popular belief, solar panels do not need direct sunlight to generate energy - they work off both direct sunlight and diffused radiation, meaning it doesn’t need to be a cloudless day to see substantial solar energy production.

The idealistic solution to this global problem is already here. We have an opportunity to use one of the biggest natural resources of energy known to man, the sun, and bend it to our will. By generating renewable and sustainable energy this way, we are using the sun to offset our consumption of fossil fuels and reduce our own carbon emissions.

Now that we have discussed some of the more exemplary reasons as to why going solar is a great move for the environment around us, let us mention another, perhaps even more enticing reason to make the switch over to solar energy: finances.

The sun will continue to produce energy long after we are gone. With that in mind, we are never going to run out of sunlight so the price of it can never rise as the near infinite supply can never be outweighed by demand - simple economics! All you have to do to take advantage of this gigantic source of energy is put yourself in a position where you can harness it and installing solar panels is the way to do this.

An investment in solar is an investment in the future, your future.


Activ8 Solar Energies Feature in Irish Examiner

Activ8 Solar Energies National Coverage

We were recently featured in the Irish Examiner with the newspaper highlighting poor representation at the COP 21 in Paris, but more importantly, showcasing Irish consumers willingness to go green.

We here at Activ8 Solar Energies, can testify to this after a successful 2015 and big plans for 2016. There are a number of things showing how willing Irish consumers are in terms of adopting solar energy on a domestic level, with growing adoption within the commercial market also growing steadily. In line with this commercial growth, it is rumoured that incentives are coming down the line to help support the enticing farm and commercial solar developments that have been seen support by many of our European counterparts.

The main reason that Irish consumers are investing in the solar thermal market, apart from the green approach of supporting the environment, is that ultimately, it is an investment that is good for the pocket!

HRI Scheme Success

One of the major successes of the current government and in turn a success for the Irish people and their adoption of renewable energies, has has been the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme. It was launched with a successful setup allowing people to claim back tax for work that was carried out on their home. In our case, one popular approach that fits the criteria perfectly, is the installation of solar panels.

Despite the HRI scheme being a well-known initiative in Ireland, its suitability for helping people make the switch to renewable energy sources is not widely publicised, although through our brand awareness and national coverage through our multiple office sites, we have successfully helped consumers make this switch under the criteria within this scheme.

Going forward, the government need to highlight the pledge Irish people are already making to tackle carbon emissions. As more people make the switch to solar and other renewables, Ireland increases the chances of hitting its emissions targets, thus helping to address the ongoing global climate crisis in line with new targets set in Paris.

Read the piece, in full on the Irish Examiner website by clicking here.

Happy New Year to all of our current customers and we look forward to hearing from those who want to bring solar technology to their homes in 2016.


Ireland's Commitment to Change at COP21 Summit Challenged

Could Ireland Have Committed to More Change at COP21 Paris?

On Monday of this week, as we got ready for another week of work in the world of renewable energy, our Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, addressed many of the world's leading nations' leaders in Paris at the COP 21 global summit on climate change.

It was a moment in which Enda could have made all of us in the renewable energy industry in Ireland proud. That includes all of our customers and everyone making genuine efforts to source and use energy from renewable and sustainable means. It includes everyone who takes pride in simple things like recycling. It includes a lot of people in Ireland. But he failed to declare Ireland's strong intentions for climate change into the future.

Instead of standing and proclaiming Ireland's willingness to do everything possible so that Ireland would reach its renewable energy targets, he simply didn’t deliver. He cited Ireland's current targets for 2020 as being “unrealistic” and “unreachable”. Although he mainly referred to the difficulties facing the agricultural section in Ireland with regards to carbon emissions, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that incentives have worked in other industries.

You only have to look at the current solar energy grants scheme that has worked very well for our targets, our businesses and most of all, the Irish public who have been able to avail of renewable energy technologies in their home. Looking to agriculture, there is the opportunity to install medium-scale solar PV systems on farm buildings through the TAMS II scheme, but measures such as this should be more heavily supported if Ireland are to be seen as being serious about offsetting the emissions caused by our ever-increasing agricultural production.

The Irish Economy and Climate Change

Getting back to the topic at hand, Ireland is in a strong position currently thanks to our growing economy. Evidence of this was seen in the generous nature of the most recent budget. It would have been possible for the government to increase incentives and really push an agenda of change in relation to climate change and our 2020 targets, with a view to reaching our 2030 targets also.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and we, like many others, were left disappointed. But with this week's COP 21 global summit on climate change unfolding, we felt that it was the time for Enda Kenny and his party to show the Irish public its future plans in relation to climate change and a chance for them to showcase to the world how Ireland could once again be a leader of change as it has done in the past.

The only real commitment to come from Mr. Kenny was The €175 million promised over the next five years, which is no more than existing Irish Aid spending repeated into the future.

We, like many others, will continue to drive the renewable energy industry in Ireland and are hopeful that Mr. Kenny scraps the notions that our recession restricted us in this regard. Plenty of poorer nations than Ireland, such as India, have been admirably powering themselves forward through the heavy backing and support of solar power. In fact, Ireland are the 8th highest polluter amongst developed countries in the entire world and we are 4th in Europe [1].

It is time for change, climate change!

[1] "World carbon dioxide emissions data by country: China speeds ahead of the rest" - The Guardian.


HRI Scheme - Everything you need to know | Activ8 Solar Energies

Activ8 Solar Energies' Definitive Guide to the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme

In 2013, the Irish Government launched the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme which gives a Tax Credit of 13.5% off the price of home improvement works carried out on your home. And with Activ8 Solar Energies as a Qualifying Contractor, solar panel installations meet the home improvement criteria perfectly, making now the right time to take advantage of the scheme and save some money.

The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme allows for a VAT clawback of up to €4,050 on the 13.5% VAT rate applied to home renovation work costing between €5,000 and €30,000 so long as it was/is carried out between October 2013 and 2016, with the Irish government having extended the scheme twice now, due to its popularity and success.

Why has the HRI Scheme been so successful?

The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme has proven to be a huge success as it offers consumers an excellent opportunity to improve their homes while making savings on their tax liabilities, with the amount being given back to them in tax credits over a two-year period.

It only makes sense that this tax credit from the HRI Scheme further helps with long-term savings as customers then save money on their energy bills after they’ve installed solar panels in their home. To this end, customers are essentially making a double saving and in reducing expenditure in a steady and sustainable way.

Eligibility

Owner / occupiers of a main home or landlords of rental properties who pay Income Tax under PAYE or self-assessment and whose Local Property Tax and Household Charge obligations are up to date, are eligible. The homeowner or landlord must be on Revenue's Local Property Tax Register as an owner or joint-owner of the main home or rental property.

How Activ8 Solar Energies Help:

In order for Activ8 Solar Energies to register the customer's work details to HRI online, we need the local property tax (LPT) number of the property where the work is being carried out. Activ8 Solar Energies register the details of works to HRI online. After the work is completed and payments are made, we then enter payment details to HRI online.

What the Homeowner must Do:

After the work has been carried out and paid for the customer then needs to go onto the revenue site - www.revenue.ie

  • Within the "my account" section: You will see - Home Renovation Incentive (HRI)
  • Click on this link, where you will be brought to homeowners login for HRI.
  • Here you put in the following personal details:
    - Tax reference number (PPS number)
    - Unique property ID (Local property tax number)
    - Secure pin (Pin from your local property tax) This pin should be on a letter of some sort from the revenue in regards to payment of your local property tax.
  • Then you just simply log in.
  • Once logged in, you should see the works we have completed for you in term the price of the system and the date of payment.
  • Once you are happy with these details there should be a button to press stating "CLAIM" or "CLAIM NOW" and you just simply press it and that is your claim completed.

 

Further Information on the HRI Scheme & SEAI grant:

www.activ8energies.com
www.revenue.ie
www.seai.ie