Thursday 20 November 2014

Biomass RHI degression

I've just had a notice from the MCS people alerting that the RHI may be subject to degression in January 2015.

Though a degression was anticipated, this early timing was not and will be a shame, as the RHI only goes some of the way to pay for a decent Biomass system at the moment and only if using cheaper low end biomass boilers such as MCZ or Red.

As most interested parties have now found, the RHI is not anywhere near the incentive that was promised. Once the cost of a Green Deal Assessment and loss of earnings in taking time off work for contractors is taken into account, the payout will not get anywhere near paying for a boiler change in 7 years.

The RHI promise will only work out if oil prices rapidly rise, over the last year though oil prices have fallen around 20%.. Though strangely (and predictably) this lower cost has not been passed onto the consumer… So that RHI plus oil price financial model is not working out, thus slowly killing off any domestic biomass installation and supply companies.

Transcript of the MCS notice today:

Dear MCS Biomass Installer,

We would like to make you aware of the latest announcement from DECC concerning a potential degression in the biomass Domestic RHI tariff, which, if triggered, would come into effect on 1st January 2015.

The statement from DECC in the most recent review said, “For biomass, forecast expenditure increased by £1.0m in September, and as at 30 September 2014 is £4.0m. This is £0.2m below its 31 October 2014 degression trigger of £4.2m. If this trigger is surpassed, then a 10 per cent reduction to the domestic biomass tariff will be announced in next month’s quarterly forecast (to be published by 1 December 2014), to come into effect on 1 January 2015.”  Please go to for the full degression report.

This potential degression would only apply to applications submitted from 1st January 2015 by new applicants. Those already receiving payments will not be affected, neither will legacy applicants (those who installed before  9 April 2014). We would remind those with consumers in the legacy group, that they have until 8 April 2015 in which to apply to Ofgem; after which the window for legacy applicants will close.

MCS would like to remind all installers:
·         To register all certificates within 10 working days of the commissioning date.
  • That MCS certificates must only be issued once the system is fully commissioned. Installers should not be tempted to issue them in advance to help a client ‘beat’ degression.
·         The timescales around processing Extended Access requests will not change. All these requests should be received well in advance of the degression date.
·         That the applicable domestic RHI tariff rate will be based on the date that an eligible and complete application is submitted to Ofgem, not the commissioning date of the MCS installation certificate. A complete application submitted to Ofgem must include valid MCS , EPC and GDAR certificates and applicant bank details.  Please ensure your customer is aware of this and that you have provided all paperwork to them in advance of the deadline. 
·         To please advise consumers to speak with the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 (pre application enquiries) or the domestic RHI line at Ofgem on 0300 003 0744 (post application enquiries) to discuss any concerns or queries they may have about RHI payments. MCS cannot answer these questions.
·         That MCS will likely see an increase in enquiries during this period so please be aware that you may experience longer queuing times on the phones. If your enquiry is not urgent, we would strongly recommend emailing the helpdesk ( for a response and we will process enquiries as soon as possible.

Saturday 16 August 2014

Solic 200 Immersion Heater divert unit

In the quest to test as many of the current Immersion Heater controllers that let you use all your excess PV generated power, I got hold of a Solic 200 Immersion controller to try out.

My first impression was that unlike most of the other Immersion Controllers that are on the market, this little unit was really basic, a box with 3 lights! No digital display or other high technology to be seen.

Opening the unit, I found a circuit board with a decent set of connection terminals, and plenty of space for manoeuvring cables. One end of the housing is used for cable entry through pre made 20mm holes, plenty big enough for up to 6mm cable.
Though the unit is supplied with blind grommets to pop into the cable access holes, you could also use 20mm compression glands, which fit nicely and would hold the cables in place.

On my test installation, the house has a 2kWp solar PV and a 150ltr hot water cylinder.
As with many other Immersion controllers, the Solic 200 needs to be installed by the main consumer unit (fuse box), and have access to the main incoming ‘tails’ from the electricity meter.

As you will see from the inside view photo, the instructions are really not needed for the wiring, as all is printed inside, so wiring was simplicity itself.
I needed to remove the Immersion heater feed cable from inside the consumer unit MCB, and extend with another piece of 2.5mm T&E cable to reach the Solic200 location. Another length of 2.5mm T&E cable was cut to connect the Solic200 incoming power back onto the MCB inside the consumer unit.

Ensure all Earth connections are insulated and connected inside the Consumer unit and Solic200.!!

That was it for wiring!.. Though this installation was a test and cable dressing was not at the top of the list, I had the installation completed  in 15 minutes. So easy!

Before switch on, the current clamp needs to be installed. The Solic200 current clamp cable is about a metre long and the clamp needs to be clipped around the live incoming cable. If there is enough space, you can do this inside the consumer unit, but outside is easier if you can get to it.

Switch on .. Checking the instructions first, I was pleased to find that I just needed to make sure the hot water tank needed heating up, thus the immersion would be heating, and switch the PV system off.

Switching on, the unit goes through a self check and makes sure you have the current clip the right way. Once a green and red LED are lit, I switched the PV system back on. After 3 minutes the third LED lit up green to show power is being fed into the Immersion heater.. That’s it!

I found the unit really easy to install. Though there are no little extras that other units such as the Immersun2 will have, the Solic200 has been designed by a seasoned MOD electronics designer to quick and easy to operate. Once in place, it will be soldier proof!
The only user interface control that will get used is a handy 30minute immersion heater Boost button.

Conclusion .. The test Solic200 has been running for over a month now during the summer 2014, and has provided a tank of hot water every day from a 2kWp PV system. There is no indication of just how much power is being sent to the immersion heater, nor any display besides the green or red lights, but this is reflected in the cost of around £225 for the DIY install. An installer should not charge more than £100 to carry out an installation, as its so easy.
For people who simply want a ‘fit and forget’ device, the Solic200 does this very well, being inexpensive in comparison to other types.
The only thing I found annoying during the installation were the tiny lid fixing screws which are inserted at the ends and easily lost. Other than this, I can see the whole unit has been thought through for minimum hassle installation and low cost.

More info  I missed out information on the alternative operating mode, as I feel this would not get used so much, but you can find all the information on the unit, with stockists at

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Immersun 2 in use

After the last post before Christmas, giving you an overview of the new Immersun 2 unit and comparing to the older, smaller and less expensive Immersun version 1, we thought it a far better idea to simply do a quick video of an Immersun 2 features in use.. So much more succinct than hundreds of words!.
As our guy Richard at the office was the first to get one installed at his house, despite the murky winter weather which will not provide a massive PV output, he has put together this video to run you through the main features