|Very British Solar: Mr and Mrs Croot of Cawood, York.
Hopkins points out that when the FIT was introduced, the government clearly indicated that their intention was to give the consumer a Return on Investment of 5%, and that they’d review the effect of the FIT. “At the moment, customers are getting a Return on Investment of approximately 15-16%. It has to be brought to a level which is sustainable, which allows the money in the pot to last longer. I’m now selling systems which I’ll install in January at the new FIT rate. “I’ll sell a 4kW system at £10,000. This will give back £700-800 in FIT/year and reduce the electricity rate by £150/year. Plus the customer gets an export tariff of around £50. The combined benefit gives the customer a Return of Investment of around 9%, which is still higher than the target of 5%.” He’s still selling 20 systems a month at the new price and doesn’t expect this to drop off any time soon.
He doesn’t have a great deal of time for those companies complaining about the drop in the FIT. “If you built your business on a customer ROI of 16%, when the government only promised 5%, whose fault is that? If I were purely driven by greed, then yes I’d be in favor of keeping the FIT where it is. But the new level is more sustainable, and makes the FIT last so that more people can benefit from it.”
But if the ROI stays at this level could the government cut again? While Hopkins demurs on this point, in the current economic climate some are preparing for another eventual cut in the FIT to bring consumer ROI closer to the 5% target. Hopkins remains extremely positive about solar in the UK – while he’ll be cutting the temporary staff he took on in the last few months to benefit from the massive take-up of solar thanks to the FIT, he feels confident the more robust companies in the UK will survive.