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Solar Panels Rogue Trade Association in false claim allegations.

Filed under: Latest News

Solar panels or solar flannels?

The laudable aims of the Solar Trade Association’s “Strict Code of Ethical Practice” include “To maintain and enhance the reputation of the STA and its members.” High tone stuff indeed! So does the STA comply with its own code? Does it in fact enhance its reputation?

You decide.

On top of what seemed to be threats to Solar Twin Ltd for speaking the truth and on top of an incredible PR stunt, when the STA made claims to the national press that it conducted “extensive research and testing” into the bacteria Legionella, (claims, which we could not substantiate, despite our asking the STA for evidence and us offering a prize of a solar panel to anyone who could) comes this year’s super-stunt.

For propaganda – pure and simple – take a look at this years super-stunt. It is that of the STA making a generally incorrect claim that solar panels are a zero carbon technology, when, in fact, most of them are not. Not at all. This brazenly false claim is reproduced as part of an email below. (In order to uphold the dignity of the leaders of the traditional wing of the UK’s solar thermal industry and to maintain and enhance the reputation of the STA and its members in general, I have deleted from the correspondence below the name and position of the esteemed individual involved.)

Dear [STA leader], I read with some surprise your claim that solar thermal is zero carbon on the STA website which reports:

[STA leader] of the Solar Trade Association said: “It is extremely disappointing that despite numerous discussions with Ministers and civil servants during the last year they patently do not recognize the huge opportunities for solar thermal in the UK. It is the only zero carbon heat technology available and had yet again been underestimated by the policy makers. There are in   excess of 100,000 of these systems out there already, far more than any other renewable heat technology. We will be urgently seeking meetings with DECC to express the concerns or our members who have invested heavily in order to grow the market and are yet again not being recognized.”

Most solar thermal systems are not zero carbon. I would like to know how the solar trade association make this claim. It seems like unfair trading to pass off all products as zero carbon when most are not in their operation. In the interest of the STA complying with its own code of conduct, accuracy (and trading standards which are appropriate to a green and growing industry), might you be prepared to make a correction?

It seems that the STA are delivering lukewarm water into the wind when they say so categorically that solar thermal is a “zero carbon heat technology”. This zero carbon thing is a false claim because objective test results published by DTI in 2001 (called Side by side testing of eight solar water heating systems) showed that in fact only one out of the eight systems tested were zero carbon in their operation. The rest all had, what is now known as carbon clawbacks, which were typically 20%. This large negation of benefit happens because although the solar heaters were potentially saving emissions from less gas being burnt at home, the CO2 emissions at the power station to which their pumps and controllers were connected actually increased because more electricity was being used.

The Solar Trade Association’s “Strict Code of Ethical Practice” also says “members must not publish statements without reference to objective test results“. Presumably this part of the code is optional, a bit like another rule (which does not exist) which the STA invented from nowhere to blackball us from being members.

How on earth can the Solar Trade Association expect to be taken seriously and to maintain and enhance the reputation of the STA and its members when its lobbying campaigns for higher grants are founded on fiction? Talk about letting the side down!

Regards, Barry Johnston. MD of Solar Twin Ltd.

P.S. All of the pumps in Solartwin’s solar water heating installations are zero carbon in operation, without exception. They are all PV pumped. Indeed it might be more accurate for the STA to say that Solartwin is the leading zero carbon solar heat technology available in UK. But accuracy is not the STA’s strong point. Blocking innovations, and ripping off its competitor’s strong points to insert into in misleading press statements are what it excels at.

But given that the Solar Rogue Traders Association routinely seek to censor us and steadfastly refuse to let us join up BECAUSE WE ADDRESS THE TRUTH in accurate statements with reference to objective test results they probably recklessly decided to publish another porkie instead. Sad really.


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