8 Things to Consider When Installing Renewables

Gary Jack
Monday, 26th May 2014

Thinking of installing renewable energy technology? Gary Jack gives some realistic advice about grants and how to check the quality of your contractor's work.

Don't get me wrong, there are good renewables contractors our there (as we have used some), and looking on the Micro Generation Certification Scheme (MCS) approved list, is a good place to start, especially if you want to be eligible for grants such as the Feed in Tariff (FIT), Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) and the Green Deal.

Unfortunately this is still no guarantee of getting a good contractor or realistic advice as I've found out first hand. I've also heard some alarming stories from friends and neighbours.

A few examples of these are as follows:

  • Some have been told that the Feed in Tariff from their PV's would move with them if they ever sold their house.

  • Some were given initial extortionate quotes, but then were offered large reductions if they would monitor the efficiency of their panels. Other offers included signing up straight away or 'special post code promotional discounts'. 

  • Others were given unrealistic energy generation projections and payback periods. 

Therefore while we are all keen to help slow down climate change and become greener by looking at installing renewable heating and energy systems, we must beware that there are some unscrupulous contractors out there looking to take advantage of people's lack of knowledge of these new technologies.

Here are some examples:


 Therefore points to consider when thinking about installing renewables:

  • Beware of cold calls from contractors promising special unbelievable deals

  • Ask the contractor for references from previous jobs

  • Check the specification includes everything you want

  • Ensure the contractor is MCS registered

  • Try and get one contractor to carry out the whole installation rather than various contractors doing several jobs. This will ensure there is only be one point of contact if something goes wrong

  • Check the outputs and pay back periods claimed by the contractor are realistic

  • Check which grants are available as these are constantly changing

  • Check if planning and building warrant permission are required

I hope I haven’t put anyone off installing renewables, but instead hopefully you will be encouraged to carry out your own investigations first to ensure you install the correct renewables for your situation and avoid installing the wrong system at the wrong price. 

Over the last 4 years Gary has installed a wind turbine, ground source heat pump and PV's in his home. The PV's in the top image are from Gary's home. Below shows his wind turbine.

Further resources

Shedding light on LEDs

For more information on PVs read:

Is Solar Still Worth It? John Adams and Wade Muggleton explore the financial and environmental benefits of solar photovoltaics in Permaculture issue 71

If the Cap Fits John Adams explores the down to earth reality of fitting solar photovoltaics cost effectively in Permaculture issue 67

Permaculture - practical solutions for self-reliance, a magazine filled with useful and inspiring features, stories and ideas about all aspects of sustainable living from gardening and farming to green building and renewable technology. Check out a free digital copy HERE. You can subscribe to the print edition HERE.