On the day that the Feed-in-Tariff comes into effect in the UK, sources close to the government have revealed to me that the remit of the scheme is about to be extended to include additional renewable technologies thought to be “interesting and in need of a leg up to help establish themselves.”
Chief amongst these technologies are the flat-plate lunar collectors being developed by a group of scientists in Moldova. These work by harvesting moonlight and are of particular interest because they tend to work when the better-known solar panels are in sleep mode. “It’s a very exciting development,” I was told by a DECC insider. “The hope is that with the addition of these panels, householders will be able to produce renewable power 24/7.”
There are still known to be one or two teething troubles with the collectors and conventional meters have so far been unable to record the power output, but the BRE are thought to be working on an “adaptive meter” which will be able to cope with this. In the meantime, the plan is for the output to be “deemed” so as not to put off early adopters.
Another problem is the expense which looks to be many times more than conventional PV. This is where the FiT comes in, because the tariff can be set to reflect the additional capital costs. “The sky’s the limit on the tariff,” said my source. “This is the way to break in new technologies. As more and more people catch on and fit lunar panels, we anticipate that the prices will fall dramatically and that it won’t be long till we arrive at grid parity, and then the FiT will degress to zero.”