This month we caught up with James Page from pioneering local solar company Joju Solar. The industry is reeling from the government’s latest cuts to the Feed In Tariff (FIT) but James argues businesses should still be thinking solar.
While we were expecting the FITs to be phased out, such a rapid a large cut was a surprise and very damaging. Businesses require time to plan staffing and finance. They will now need to target customers who will use the energy, and not simply rely on the FITs. But it is incorrect, and indeed damaging, to say as some have done that solar is no longer viable.
Q: So solar can still be a worthwhile investment for Islington businesses?
The good news is that even with the new FITs solar can provide respectable returns of around 10% provided buildings are selected to optimise the savings on electricity bills. Matching solar generation to usage, or creating microgrids of interconnected users will achieve this. Nor is lack of money an excuse anymore. Sainsbury’s Bank, M&S and no doubt many other lenders now offer 3.5% loans. That will be more than paid for by savings, and is about half the rate for unsecured loans when FITs began 6 years ago.
Q: We hear you’ve just installed a solar array at the Busworks workspace where your office is located?
Yes and the solar electricity generated on Busworks is used not only by the landlord but by the dozens of companies that share each meter, thus maximising savings and minimising export to the grid. This link shows the generation from one of the three systems.
Q: Any advice for businesses or commercial landlords considering installing solar?
It follows that businesses or landlords thinking about investing in solar should discuss the project with specialists at an early an early stage. Then the application to UKPN can be made in good time. Remember also that the FIT is reviewed and adjusted for new systems every quarter so the sooner an installation is completed the better.