Solar water heating competition update newflash:
Good news 1.
We have just heard today that we are once again, after years of exclusion, full members of the Solar Trade Association.
Also that we have been invited to help to shape the future of a new and more inclusive UK solar trade body.
Good news 2.
We have also heard that today the Solar Trade Association and its Senior Officers will no longer make “virtually zero carbon” claims for mains pumped solar water heating.
Presumably nobody else will do so either – unless they have very energy efficient pumps. Finally, “zero carbon operation” and similar claims really do belong only where they really belong – for example as descriptions of PV pumped solar thermal, and not mains pumped solar water heating systems.
We probably have the Renewable Energy Association and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to thank for this excellent news for solar consumers (and for us).
Good news 3.
It’s like buses, isn’t it? Three in a row.
We have also been told today that a leading UK solar marketing company (we prefer not to name them – aren’t we cute?) will no longer be making “75% off solar panels” marketing claims. We know, for certain this time, that we have the Advertising Standards Authority to thank for this change.
This excellent news will not just help solar consumers: it will allow all solar companies to market on a more level playing field by discouraging us all from “pushing the envelope of claims” (to use marketeer-speak).
Our competition “still-do-list” remains, of course, humungous. It includes:
1/ Developing a constructive dialogue with some of the solar industry’s most entrenched and obstructive (ie loyally networked) solar market-blockers, some of whom we know are still actively making mischief. In some vindictive industries, balls are black for life.
2 Getting to work in a positive way on the myriad of national and international technical committees which can make or break markets for innovation.
3 MCS. The government’s Microgeneration Certification Scheme’s various issues… governance, scope, liability, conflict of interest disclosure, life cycle analysis of microgeneration, environmental performance reporting (such as how many times is embodied+operational payback achieved in its life?) for all technologies, including solar thermal.
4 Getting The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to reward only net energy rather than gross energy (which is poised to become a fraud against the nation which could wreck the whole credibility of the RHI).
4 Updating UK’s obsolete solar installer training material, obsolete teaching equipment (and therefore some installers) about the simple operation, quality installation and demonstrable benefits of PV pumped solar thermal technologies which use no antifreeze chemicals.
5 Serious compensation in numerous areas, including for Solartwin customers who were, in our view unreasonably denied MCS listing and who therefore lost out on grants.
6 Legionella safety in solar heating hot water storage systems. Also heat pumps.
7 Gaining membership of another trade body, the IDHEE, the Institute of Domestic Heating and Environmental Engineers, currently the regulatory “dark matter” fun machine of Dr Chris Laughton, FIDHEE, Chair of BSI Solar Thermal Committee, CEN delegate, independent consultant, expert witness, government-trusted regulations expert and oracle of “all things good and old-solar” (who sidelines as an anarchist fiction writer).
8 Upgrading numerous European and UK standards and regulations on solar energy and building regulations.
9 The development of a less lobby-led and a more evidential approach to government policy on carbon and the energy rating of microgeneration products. I am encouraged at the keen interest of some of the parliamentarians whom I have met on this issue.
10 Bringing even more solar to even more people at even better price/performances than we are doing today thanks to the UK solar playing field finally starting to be levelled!
Commenting on the changes, Barry Johnston, Managing Director of Solar Twin Ltd said:
“There is still a long way to go and it may still get derailed, but it seems to us like that some fierce competition concerns may now be evaporating. Being members of the Solar Trade Association will, I hope, will allow us to unpick, or at least debate honestly the root causes of these past years of boycott.
Its causes appear to include:
- misrepresentation of Kerr MacGregor’s superior but disruptive technology, and those who promote is as unwanted aliens;
- installer fears that our much simpler technology will widen the solar thermal installer recruitment pool and thereby reduce its profitability and exclusivity;
- and old solar technology suppliers’ night-sweats that our amazing technology will decimate them because if it is ever properly acknowledged as being far more sustainable and “give me a free upgrade” upgrade cost concerns about possible Legionella safety compromises.
“Thank you also to everyone else who has been involved: customers, suppliers, colleagues, my family (not only for the loans to cover legal bills, but for everything including putting up with my late nights and my working at weekends), the REA and MPC whose trade body members and officers who have sometimes stuck their necks right out for us, and for local politicians over the years, including Klaus Armstrong-Braun (Green), Christine Russell (Labour) and Stephen Mosley (Con), MP for Chester, an inquiring scientist who has already come to see us twice.”
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