Feed-In Tariff 2021 - Sell Solar Electricity Back To The Grid

In a welcome development, the Irish government, through Minister Eamon Ryan (Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications) announced that the design and consultation process was beginning in order to formulate how the scheme will look and function. Submissions for this are being accepted until Thursday February 18th. There are currently no support schemes in place and while we recently discussed the explosion in solar providers since the arrival of the SEAI solar PV grant at the end of July 2018, it was a very welcome addition to the government's strategy in encouraging micro-generation in private homes for the proliferation of solar pv and renewable energy throughout Ireland. This is the next step in our national goal of reducing carbon emissions. It's important that this feed-in tariff is brought in with micro-generation at the heart of it and here's why.

The Future of Solar PV and Renewable Energy In Ireland

When looking at the sectoral output of carbon emissions in Ireland, we know that the top 3 can be targeted and reduced by renewable energy projects. The top 3, are 1. Agriculture, 2. Energy and 3. Transport - with transport being the biggest mover from 1990 levels up to the current day. With agriculture, Irish farmers are known for being one of the most efficient nations in the world in how they operate. There are efforts being made all the time to further eliminate or offset emissions in this industry. We're even involved in this ourselves with our partners SSE Airtricity and Glanbia Ireland through FarmGen. When it comes to a micro-generation feed-in tariff, of course this will further incentivise farmers, but there is a greater opportunity in Ireland with domestic households and how they are projected to evolve over this decade. Through this avenue, we can tackle both the energy sector and the transport sector. The SEAI is already incentivising the sales of EVs here in Ireland and it is only a matter of time before they reach parity and then become cheaper to manufacture in comparison to their petrol/diesel-powered counterparts. So when we think of the evolution of transport in this country, we can't just depend on industry to implement these changes. We've seen how An Post has managed to eliminate much of its fossil fuel-powered fleet and replace it with electric mobility - they managed to make Dublin the first capital city in the entire world with zero emissions postal delivery and they are to be commended for such. It's time to place the power of change in the hands of the homeowner. With expected cost parity in the years to come for electric vehicles, we need the foresight to implement changes in our electricity/energy mix at a domestic level so that homeowners are ready to buy an electrical vehicle and have the ability to generate electricity in their homes. This way, we tackle both the energy sector and the transport sector through micro-generation in Irish homes.

Learning From European Counterparts

It's important to learn from appropriate case studies, not only how they were implemented, but more importantly, what worked and what didn't. Unfortunately, being in a position to learn and look back on foreign policy shows that we are way behind. In Germany, their guaranteed feed-in tariffs under Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEGsaw the share of renewable power, mostly coming from wind, solar PV and biomass, in electricity generation rise from about 3.5 percent in 1990 to 35 percent in 2018. But as of 2021, more and more renewable installations will lose their guaranteed funding as their 20 years of EEG payments come to an end. 20 years! Germany is at the end of their first feed-in tariff programme and for domestic solar, there are issues around fluctuating price points due to the old technology for metering - whereas we won't face that issue in Ireland with the modern technology available for metering purposes. So we do have technology on our side.

National Appetite For Change

It is important to note that as time moves and technology grows, it can be hard to see the slow-moving changes in one persons attitude, nevermind an entire nation. We feel that the appetite for countering climate change in Ireland has been consistently improving. There have always been steadfast advocates in this regard, but it's important that they are supported by more and more as the need becomes greater. No less, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan that announced this consultation, has been a strong advocate in this area for many years. A younger Minister Ryan can be seen at the opening of our first head office in May of 2009 in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan. The same place where we are currently building our brand new headquarters, to help us continue our growth in the years ahead.

We look forward to the consultation process and working both internally and with our dedicated partners in providing submissions to try and make sure our customers are justly rewarded for their generation and that we create a fair and equitable microgeneration market that encourages many more homeowners and businesses to start generating renewable electricity through the installation of solar panels.

As a company that prides itself on our quality of service, we would love to hear from our customers and solar enthusiasts on what issues they would like addressed in the consultation phase and what they want to see incorporated as part of the scheme, you can send any and all submissions to info@activ8energies.com.

 

 


The Irish Solar Market | A Reflection & Projection

The Solar Landscape In Ireland | Reflection and Projection

Now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the Irish solar market. 2020 was a year of unimaginable uncertainties for so many people here in Ireland and who knew that we would be entering 2021 with some of the same. We now have a vaccine and that brings us back towards normality and again, certainty.

What makes now a good time to take stock? Well, here at Activ8 Solar Energies, we have a big year ahead, we're getting ready to celebrate 15 years in the solar business as well as opening a state-of-the-art headquarters. When we speak of certainty inside the four walls of Ireland's solar experts, we really own can be certain of one thing; change!

We started off with flat-plate solar panel collectors before the famous financial crisis of 2008 threw Ireland into recession and we learned a lot with that experience. We know that our original product offering has changed from solar panels to heat hot water only (flat-plate, or "Solar Thermal") to solar panels that create electricity (Solar PV). The recession came and went (with the infamous IMF) and the country slowly got back on its feet. More recently, we even saw the rise and fall of Donald Trump and you might think, what has that got to do with solar? Well, we wrote about this in 2016 and the possible disaster this might have for climate change efforts around the world, and we were unfortunately proven correct.

What has come before us is history and what will happen in the future is unknown, except for the knowledge that things will change and we here in Activ8 Solar Energies will adapt and evolve. We recently celebrated ISO certification in new areas, championing our commitment to process improvement internally, ultimately helping our customers. The reassurance longevity and experience brings cannot be underestimated. Customers of ours from 2007, 14 years ago, know that we're the same company that installed their solar panels in 2007 and although we've changed and grown over the years (for the better), we're still the same Activ8 Solar Energies.

Through our own data analysis, we have come to see the solar market here in Ireland become a lot more crowded. For instance, in the summer of 2018, Activ8 was competing with 6 similar businesses on Google Ads, according to the Auction Insights Report. December 2020 shows 20 competitors for the same market. This isn't a bad thing as this increased level of competition means that supply side solar costs are sustainable and more importantly, that standards are set and maintained by national bodies as a result. Heck, our CEO Ciaran Marron was on the NSAI committee to help formulate these standards given our longstanding position in the Irish solar market. It helps that our motto internally has always been "We don't follow standards, we set them" and to remain as Ireland's Solar Experts, we must always strive for the highest possible standards.

However, the sudden growth in 2018 may coincide with the introduction of the SEAI Solar PV grant at the very end of July 2018. As mentioned, it's great for the proliferation of solar and renewable energy throughout Ireland to have so many suppliers in the market going forward and here's hoping that as an industry, standards across the board are kept to a sustained, high level through the SEAI and other bodies.

We're delighted to have been offering solar energy and solar panels for 14 years and look forward to delivering our exceptional level of service for many more years to come. Keep an eye on our pages for more information on our improved Customer Resource Centre as well as our growing Activ8 Solar Academy.

Fingers crossed that 2021 delivers what we're all hoping for, a resumption to what we all call normal.


Stumbling Towards Solar PV Incentives In Ireland

As a key stakeholder in the Irish Solar Industry, this week is a very interesting one indeed.

Today I travel to a number of meetings with many like-minded people within my industry, to see if we can form a strong, stable and exciting incentive to help us move past the label of Europe’s solar laggards.

Tomorrow I travel to Munich, to Intersolar 2018, where I can discuss with our peers in Europe, suppliers and engineers alike on the deemed successes of solar throughout the continent in the past and the products and strategies of the future.

To see where our industry sits at this moment in time we should see the successes achieved both by us and by our nearest neighbours – Northern Ireland. SEAI have done a great job spreading the word of sustainability throughout Ireland, with grants for almost every useful upgrading measure available. To this end, energy conservation and renewable production has almost become glamorous! You need look no further than Diarmuid Gavin on a Sunday afternoon on RTE to realise that triple glazing, insulation and heatpumps are the fashionable things to go for. When it comes to Solar Thermal, SEAI have truly done their part also. We have upgraded thousands of homes through the grant scheme, and thousands of others simply through the knock on effect of testimonials, advocating the effectiveness of established solar homes. Great products, services and savings are infectious, but sometimes need a push to get over the hump of inertia. In this context, Northern Ireland have taken an approach to incentivise Solar PV. From simply driving the road from Dundalk to Castleblayney, you can see the effects from one incentivised region to another.

For those not familiar with the N53, it turns into the A37 (NI) for 5.4 kilometres. As you drive this small stretch of road, you can see what a difference the PV incentive has made. You will see both social and private housing with systems installed, as well as numerous businesses from petrol stations to bars and shops. All reducing the electricity purchased from the grid, saving money and doing their bit for the environment. Then as you move further down the road onto the N53 again you can see domestic customers availing of solar thermal again in the Republic.

A small PV incentive, similar to that which homeowners can obtain for solar thermal in Ireland would put us in a position to catch up with our European counterparts in the renewable stakes. We already have the governing body in place, along with mechanisms to roll this out extremely efficiently. We have checks in place for trade specific qualifications and insurances to ensure the customer is using a properly vetted company. We already have the vehicles in place to do quality insurance inspections to ensure only high quality installers remain on this grant list. We even have an efficient way of trading carbon credits which could also subsidise installation costs in place. Leaving us with 2 roadblocks;

  1. The lack of an incentive in place for solar PV
  2. The lack of planning foresight for Solar PV, as we are still working from exemptions with solar thermal in mind

Change is difficult. Enacting mass change is harder again. Indecision, plodding progress and fear of change is what has us as Europe’s laggards. On a technology that has proven itself throughout European countries for over a decade now. This stumbling progress to date, has left us second from bottom on a list produced by Europe’s largest NGO coalition Climate Action Network (CAN) on Monday just past (18th June 2018) of countries and their progress toward their 2020 goals. However, the aforementioned structures and processes that we already have in place, allows me to look at the current solar landscape and our ability to move forward with solar PV with positivity.

Ciaran Marron
CEO


Solar Thermal In Spring

We’re nearing the end of February. The fact that almost 2 months have passed in 2017 is newsworthy enough, it’s mad to think that time has gone so fast. With the time of year in mind and spring in full swing, our customers will start to see the production of their solar panels really pick up with the hours of daylight increasing day by day. General temperatures are starting to pick up and although the peak summer months can deliver daily hot water, it is these transitional periods during spring and autumn when the Atlas solar thermal panels really show their efficiency.

Spring And Autumn

These transitional periods bring more hours of daylight, stronger solar radiation and overall better conditions for solar. Our Atlas solar panels, developed in Austria with the Irish climate in mind, are built to maximise their efficiency during these times. Couple this with the extremely well-insulated piping and the optimised Joule cylinders that we install with each installation and you can be confident that each piece of equipment used is part of a system aimed at squeezing every last bit of heat from the solar radiation available.

Seeing The Solar Savings

Recent news articles have shown the dramatic drop in wholesale electricity prices over the last number of years, leading to questions as to why these prices haven’t been reflected in the prices available to customers. It is important to note, that the price of solar energy as it is produced can’t go up or down on a daily, monthly or yearly basis. Why? Because it’s free!
Once the system is installed, the production of hot water over the lifetime of that system is absolutely zero. Zilch. We understand that the initial outlay is of course substantial, but most investments in your home are. The advantages to taking advantage of such an investment include the available grants, the tax-free nature of the savings you make and the reality that inflation can’t effect something that you get for free no matter what happens to consumer prices. We have no mystic macs here at Activ8, but we bet that generally speaking, just like has happened in the last 15-20 years, prices and the cost of heating your water will rise over time.

Our Grants page outlines the process through which you can check if your home is eligible for a grant and what you need to do in order to attain the grant. You’ll soon realise that we help with every step of the process and go as far as processing the grant post-installation but giving you the grant amount off the price of the system, up-front.

250 Years In The Making - Solar Thermal

Solar thermal experiments and "technology" advances have come a long way. How long? 250 years.

In 1767, Horace de Saussure, a noted Swiss naturalist, observed, “It is a known fact, and a fact that has probably been known for a long time, that a room, a carriage, or any other place is hotter when the rays of the sun pass through glass. To determine the effectiveness of trapping heat with glass covers, de Saussure built a rectangular box out of half-inch pine, insulated the inside, and had the top covered with glass, and had two smaller boxes placed inside. When exposed to the sun, the bottom box heated to 228 degrees F (109 degrees C) or 16 degrees F (9 degrees C) above the boiling point of water. de Saussure was unsure of how the sun heated the glass boxes. Today we can better explain what happened. Sunshine penetrated the glass covers. The black inner lining absorbed the sunlight and converted it into heat. Though clear glass allows the rays of the sun to easily enter through it, it prevents heat from doing the same. As the glass trapped the solar heat in the box, it heated up. Its inventor realised that someday the hot box might have important practical applications, as “it is quite small, inexpensive and easy to make.” Indeed, the hot box has become the prototype for the solar collectors that have provided sun-heated water to millions since 1892.

Tried and tested to say the least! Why not get in contact with us and see if you're grant eligible and how solar can help you at home and help you save money too.


Activ8 Suppliers Recognised in EuPD Research as Top Solar Brands

There is a reason we work with specific partners and suppliers in the solar industry. We value quality, efficiency and performance above all else. That is also the reason why we chased ISO 9001 accreditation in 2015 with such purpose. Within Activ8 Group, everything is in our control, the way in which the products we use are produced, is subjectively, out of our control. But we choose our suppliers carefully.

Getting EUPD Research Recognition in the Solar Industry

That is why we were delighted to hear that their shared value of quality was recognised recently as part of the recent EUPD Research results for 2016 with our inverter partners, Solis (string) and Enphase (micro) both receiving Top Brand within the Solar PV category. To add to this, our solar pv panel supplier have had their Bloomberg Tier 1 panel quality recognised also, with an award for their modules within the Solar PV category also.

It is important to us, that our customers know they are receiving the very best of products installed on their properties, be them retail or commercial. We won’t always claim to be the cheapest solar panel installer here in Ireland, but we can safely say there are a number of things that our competitors cannot claim to possess that we do.

It is important to note that EuPD Research is the leading market intelligence company in the sustainable business sector and they pride themselves on delivering deep and diverse industry insight and in everything they do, they look to embody the principles of sustainability.

To be the best, you have to use the best and congratulations to our partners Suntech, Solis and Enphase on their recent recognition.


Australia Saves $1 Billion Per Year With Solar

Solar panels on suburban Australian home roof
** Note: Visible grain at 100%, best at smaller sizes

As far as the energy industry is concerned, Australia has proven that the efficient implementation of simple ideas can yield unprecedented and unbelievable results. Australia's embracing of alternative energy in the form of its nationwide solar PV panel project has taken the country by storm, saving it more than $1 billion per year on power bills. The Aussies have installed well over 23.2 million solar PV panels this year. When you think about it, that’s nearly one solar panel for every person in the country (at the last census, Australia was calculated as being home to 24 million people). While there can be no denying that Australia has invested heavily in solar, the $1 billion annual saving represents a significant return on investment, an average saving of $653 per household per year.

Recent years have seen a huge increase in the number of solar panel installations on Australian rooftops. Since the 2007-2008 financial year the country has saved approximately $4.4bn thanks to its solar energy investment. For the past three years the country has been saving an annual average of $1bn thanks to renewable solar energy which certainly justifies the nation’s many installations. The installation of rooftop solar panels has become the norm in Australia’s building industry as people and businesses wisen up to the fact that they had been missing a trick in not putting them up much sooner. In fact, Australians now spend almost as much money on solar panels as they do on coffee.

Solar Power to the People

Households and small business investors have invested more than $8 Billion in the installation of rooftop solar panels. This translates to a grand total of more than 1.5 million households and business units. In the recently concluded financial year, Australians invested $1.23bn on the installation of solar panels. The initiative to revolutionise renewable energy in Australia continues to be a resounding success because the most crucial portion of the population, it’s everyday working citizens, is committed to ensuring that it is successful. It is the hard earned cash from home owners and small business investors that has made the project a success.

Australia has set the pace for the global revolution of the use of renewable energy. Currently, the country's generation has hit 6.5TWh (terawatt-hours) from the already installed rooftop solar PV panels. Such large amounts of clean and renewable power is not only beneficial to the country's economy and revenue but it also brings about great environmental benefits. For example, the country's ongoing generation of clean solar energy helps prevent as much as 6.3 tonnes of greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere and causing irreparable damage every single year. This is of huge benefit to the Australian environment and its people as Australia is known to have some of the thinnest patches in the Ozone layer, which creates a lot of problems. The country's progress in implementing the use of alternative energy has been such a huge success because it has been spearheaded by a great many visionaries who have taken global energy goals and targets into their perspective, a very forward-thinking attitude toward carrying out business.

Future Australian politicians and other stakeholders need to ensure that the country maintains the current renewable energy trend to ensure that it continues to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy, as not doing so could negatively impact them at the voting booth. Approximately 5 million Australians have installed PV panels on their property, indicating a huge level of support for renewable energy initiatives among the populace. This represents a base of more than one in five voters, so politicians would be ignoring the popularity and usefulness of solar power at their own peril!

What can we learn from this in Ireland?

With Australia leading the way in terms of embracing clean and renewable forms of energy, we can learn a lot from them right here in Ireland. The impressive savings which Australian homeowners and businesses are making thanks to placing their trust in solar power is plain for all to see. With that in mind, it is high time the people of Ireland followed suit and took their share of the spoils!

Sure, there are plenty of Australian citizens that have taken to solar technologies because of their environmentally friendly approach to energy production, but that sort of adoption points directly towards the savings which we’ve outlined already. That reason alone has seen solar panels begin to appear on rooftops all over Ireland, but the number of people who have invested are still in the minority however. Depending on the size and energy needs of your building, massive savings can be made through the installation of solar panels on your home or business location. Whatever you do, don't delay. Now is the time to invest!


Activ8 Solar Energies Feature at Reception of NSAI ISO9001 Certification Event

Our General Manager Aidan Marron, along with our Installation Manager Stephen Duffy, attended the recent NSAI event where a number of companies were awarded their NSAI certificates. We were there to collect our ISO 9001 Accreditation for our Quality Management Systems. This event was used by the NSAI to showcase the direct correlation between companies who have received certification and their operating profit and growth.
We can only speak of our own experience. We would agree with the results of the study whilst also wanting to shed some light on how the process improvements involved in readying the company are what actually result in company growth and profit improvements.

We can only speak in relation to our own experience within the solar industry, but when it comes to an investment such as solar panels, we feel that customers will look towards our NSAI certification and no that they are dealing with a company that puts quality at the forefront of everything they do. Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, our ISO9001 accreditation for Quality Management Systems is proof. Proof that whatever stage a customer is at, they are involved in a process that some 7000+ customers have gone through, allowing us to refine and perfect our own processes for a better customer experience as they purchase a solar system from us.

This certification is one that we are very proud of, given that we are the only dedicated solar installer in Ireland to achieve ISO9001. Something that sets us apart from competitors and gives our customers reassurance that their investment in solar panels with Activ8 Solar Energies, is a safe investment.