From April 1st all householders requesting to receive feed-in tariff (FiTS) for solar PhotoVoltaic installations will have to make sure that their houses are properly insulated first and that this is reflected on their Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's) with a minimum level D.
Initially there was some confusion about the precise requirements but the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have now confirmed that solar PV installation will contribute towards improvements in property EPC's.
DECC are now absolutely clear about this. A spokesperson from the department said: "A generator must be able to demonstrate as part of their application for FiTs that the building to which the solar PV installation is attached or wired to provide electricity is rated at EPC level D or above. The FiTs requirement doesn't prescribe how level D should be met." DECC have also stated that people wishing to use solar PV to improve their EPC must install their system first, undergo the EPC assessment and then apply for tariffs. The application for FiTS must be accompanied by the EPC clearly showing the Level D rating.
This requirement will apply to any building, heated or cooled, connected to a solar PV system, whether domestic, commercial or otherwise. This means that even if a solar PV system was mounted on an unheated barn or shed, the building must still be covered by an EPC Level D. This also applies to ground mounted arrays where the electricity is directed into a nearby building. The requirement only covers systems of less than 50 kW. Financial assistance in order to help meet the new requirement may be obtainable from the Carbon Emissions Reductions Target (CERT) scheme, although from this autumn finance may also be available through the government's Green Deal scheme.
The new stipulation has been accepted by the industry as it is a welcome relaxation from the previously announced requirement of EPC Level C which many within the solar sector feared would kill off the industry. At present just over half of residential buildings within the UK already meet Level D and around 65% of commercial buildings. The requirement may provide a welcome boost to the industry as some Level E buildings will be able to be upgraded merely by installing a solar PV system. "If installing PV tips you over the edge into securing Band D, that's very reassuring," said a spokeswoman from the Renewable Energy Association told the website Business Green. "We didn't have clarity before that this would be the case, but now we have."