December 1 Case Study The MGMPR Blogger

AmberGreen tell BBC’s Good Morning Ulster there’s no such thing as a free lunch with solar

By Eleanor McGillie

EVERYONE in Northern Ireland is noticing the influx of solar PV panels on roofs across the province.

A few years ago it was perhaps a big decision to make – now it’s a no-brainer. Electricity prices are continuing to rise and people are becoming more and more conscious that they do not have to be controlled by energy companies. The other option? Generate your own.

As a result of the growing popularity for solar PV the decisions which people make must be informed, relevant to them and their circumstances, and, to ensure you get what you want, you must use a trusted and reliable installer.

The idea of ‘free’ solar PV is one of those decisions which people are being faced with.

At Amber Green we have never been a fan of ‘free’ solar. Free solar means entering into a lease agreement with a solar company – often for up to 20 years . What does that mean? It means they have a claim to your roof.

This morning on BBC Radio Ulster, reporter David Maxwell led the debate on whether or not ‘free’ solar in Northern Ireland is good for home owners and businesses.

As David reported solar is an industry which has really taken off with over 1,300 installations expected this year compared to 400 last year. So the question is – do you make that initial investment or do you go with the so-called ‘free’ option?

There are three companies in Northern Ireland which offer ‘free’ solar panels.

So what does ‘free’ solar mean? Quite simply, it means you, as a property owner, do not have to pay for your panels and you get to use the energy it generates – that is of course if you are using the energy during daylight hours. What you don’t get, however, are the green subsidies paid by the Government nor do you get the money back from the grid from any excess energy which you don’t use. So if you are not using the energy your system produces it goes back to the grid and the installer reaps the financial gain – not you.

David Maxwell interviewed our chairman Neil O’Brien and also Richard Love, who works for one of the ‘Free Three’ and is also chairman of the Northern Ireland Solar Trade Association.

Richard suggested that people should stagger when they consume their energy and says with ‘free’ solar people should consider using their washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers during the day to get the benefit of their system. Or, if you are like most people and are out at work, he suggested you could buy a timer and then set the timer for when you wash and dry your clothes or wash your dishes.

Our solution is much simpler and more rewarding. Make the investment so you save money, you get the Government subsidies and you earn the money from the grid for excess energy.

Our chairman had this to say: “Free solar in Northern Ireland isn’t something which is best suited to consumers and companies here. For us, to have someone else taking the benefits of your free solar is like them eating your lunch.

“We feel it does not suit the market and doesn’t have some of the integrities that the Government policy driving the subsidy was supposed to have.

“The transformation of your home is severely restricted when someone else owns a piece of it. If you  want to sell or re-mortgage or if you want to leave your home to a family member, that all comes with conditions because someone else has a claim to your roof top.”

If a free system is installed it’s a long term addition to the house. If the homeowner has a mortgage they will need to inform the lender. The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) here have yet to issue guidance to banks on this so some banks may be reluctant to change mortgage deals or grant mortgages on properties that have the free panels.

There’s also a piece of legislation particular to Northern Ireland called the Business Tenancy Order which means it could be difficult for you to get your roof back at the end of the 20 year contract because it gives the tenant, ie the solar company, the right to extend their term.

Our message is clear. If you make the decision to control your bills, make sure you are in control. Make the investment and reap the rewards. For more information call us on 0800 122 3838.

To listen to the recording click:




  • Amber Green Energy is an industry leader in green energy solutions in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. It adopts a dynamic approach to project funding, combined with proven technologies, ensures excellent returns on investments from renewable, sustainable power generation. Amber Green helps clients navigate green energy legislation and access to sustainable energy revenues. Amber Green Energy helps clients with the planning and design of sustainable green energy technologies for anaerobic digestion, wind power generation, combined heat and power and solar panels – photovoltaics. Amber Green Heat is part of Amber Green Energy.
  • For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd (McGillie Media & PR Ltd) on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 | | Renewable Energy PR | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Experts

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