An explanation into new Feed in Tariffs

This post is done with the understanding that I am correct in my research.If there are mistakes, please notify me so I can rectify them.

In the last eight years or so, the local government, following our much argued entry into the European Union, has been given grants from the same union to distribute among those who would like to apply for enhanced tariffs and set-up costs in purchasing a Photovoltaic Array… or, as commonly known in Malta, Solar Panels.

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There have been a number of differing contracts and regulations to entice a home-user with a free roof to install these panels. As a discerning man who has a fond eye for saving energy, this was a no-brainer for me.

I would get the grant, and instead of paying ARMS for the electricity, I would pay the same (or lesser) amount to a local bank. At a 0% interest rate, I figured that it was a safe bet. And it was, because in these past years, my bill HAS indeed shrunk down to nearly 0.

However, at that time, the cost of each unit (after the agreed upon grant would expire), was talked about as being 16c5, and in my thoughts, I said ”hmm… from 22c to 16c5, that’s still quite decent”. So, I went and applied for the grant and had superb service from them… (solarsolutions.com.mt)

Sadly, the government has shocked everyone with the recently introduced new ‘marginal tariff’.

And that marginal tariff, is, shockingly… 7c5 per unit.

So let me explain this clearly with an example.

In 2018, my panels generated 4190kw… For that amount, I received a Feed in Tariff rate of 22c per kw.

The maths is easy 4190 x 22c = 92180c, or €921.80

With current pricing, that amount will now be… 4190 x 7c5 = €314.25

For that price, I would never ever have given up so much space from my roof. Of course, one could build a structure and what not, but these all add to the price which would thus take longer to recoup.

So, from now, on IF anybody is going to install PV Panels, do yourselves a favour, and go only for NON SPONSORED units. That way, you can negotiate a 20 year contract. I CERTAINLY did not know that this was an option at the time of signing as I would have made a different decision. 

So, thankfully there is a second option, which, might perhaps make a bit more sense, and this is partial sell. With partial sell, you are using the direct output of the panels in real time, and whatever is left, is sold to the government at the same pitiful 7c5 marginal cost.

I honestly think that whatever decision was taken, 7c5 is too little, as it sincerely makes the whole undertaking pretty much useless. Who does all this work for a pittance of €290 per annum?

Ok, Partial Sell. This means that with PS, those who are at home between ‘sunlight hours’, (not to be confused with daylight hours!) say 10am to 5pm, will be using the self generated energy to power their homes. It is a fair practice in my opinion, as long as someone IS indeed at home. BUT!!! What use could this possibly be to those families in which all members are at work in the morning?

Personally, this will be ok for me since invariably, with everybody except myself being a regular at home at odd hours, our electricity bills tend to be on the high side.

The energy not utilised (in the old way, exported) will be then sold to the government at the lower priced 7c. From the graph below, for my system, I will have to instruct whoever is at home that washing machines, cookers, toasters, dishwashers and anything remotely connected to a plug should be mostly switched on between 10 o’clock-ish up to 5pm… (SO not happening!)

As for the horribly hot nights we endure in Malta, I will have to start paying premium costs once again. It is not even a question that needs to be asked. Most people use the larger majority of their electricity during the night…

panels2And now, my personal opinion. This sucks on so many levels, it is unreal. Instead of the government agreeing that this is a splendid solution for Malta, we go and cripple owners in such a bad way that it makes it all worthless.

At the first sign of a panel going wonky, then one would do well to just chuck everything outside… because going to a landfill would be too expensive.

Hardly any wonder that some local sites are selling panels at knock-down prices.

I think that this should have been thought out in a better way… such as, leave out the ”in real time” , and simply dock the panels generated amount from that used during the day.

So if my panels generate 16 units, and I use 19 units on that day, then I will simply pay for 3 units. Without obliging people to use their appliances at certain times of day. Of course, it would be stupid to think of any government doing anything for the people, so that is probably not going to happen. This is daft.

Because when one considers how much money Malta is still losing out on from the EU, citizens investing in renewable energy should be encouraged… not chopped on the neck. And THIS idiocy is why we remain ‘only in malta’

Let’s see how things proceed.

To go electric?

For many years now, the constant rise of the road-tax (or license as we call it here), has made me wonder many times why I put up with it?

As somebody who is not a real car fan (unless it is Formula1 racing!), I am at great pains to really work out why a 3-metre tiny car with a Euro5 emission rated engine should pay nearly three hundred euros for a road-tax, which, added to the approximately two hundred euro insurance, brings the total amount to nearly five hundred Euros.

I have no doubt that it is a deterrent so that people will no longer buy imported cars from second hand dealers, but obviously enough, fill the already rich local new-car importers with more money.

Be that as it may, a car is always good for emergencies, and seeing that the local bus service is nothing to write home about, it is indispensable. (Catching a bus from Tarxien is like fishing. You KNOW the buses are there, or will snare you at some time, but planning is nigh in impossible.

I don’t want to hear excuses on how things are better now (untrue), or how they have improved greatly (another lie). When a bus sign at a stop says that the bus will be there at 5.07, I EXPECT the bus to be there at seven minutes past the hour. Other countries can do it. Then again, this is Malta.

OK, so in substitution of a car, or the bus, what else can I do? I love cycling. The minor altercation with a Qash-Qai last year left me shaken for many months. The sight of my bedraggled bike in the corner of the garage did not inspire that much confidence to get into the saddle once again.

I repaired the damage, and although the bicycle looked pristine once again, I still had problems in addressing the not unsubstantial step of once again venturing into the roads.

The past month has seen me looking around, thus, for alternate transport. Not because I need to, but because I want to. And going electric has intrigued me for many years now. Sure, I understand that with electric, the waste is going to be generated at a different source, in effect, minimizing somewhat the carbon footprint saving. (I am already doing much of that with electricity generation and solar water heating.)

To me, however, the pure pleasure of cycling, boosted with electrical power when required is unrivaled. Let’s not go into the financial aspect. My daily commute is mercifully very short, so apart from my weekend jaunts, fuel consumption is not something I am overly worried about. I perhaps use up twenty euros of fuel every fortnight, if even that much.

It is the knowledge rather that we are moving on from burning fossil fuel at secondary source.

I have thus taken a decision that in the future months, I will build an electric vehicle. It might not take the form of a bicycle, as indeed, I have a scooter which takes me places very efficiently, but perhaps not the best option for hills.

Malta is, after all, a quite hilly country which does not lend itself exactly brilliantly to car-less commuting.

So yeah, I am researching on how to put together an electric machine for personal use. The scooter is the first step as it is light, portable, fold-able, and easily adaptable to what I have in mind.

Plans have been thought up and drawn. Let’s see how it goes.

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Some thoughts after Bologna…

As usual, when I go on holiday, I walk a lot. It IS a big deal for me considering my conditions. Be that as it may, we usually go to places where the land is typically flat, quite unlike our country.
It is thus quite usual for me to walk ten to fifteen kilometres daily without any hassle. Of course, locally, normally, one would do this in a car…
Let’s face it, who would dare to go to Scan by walk? Of course, it is only 2km away, but one only needs to look at that great big hill to realise that it is akin to torture.
So it is one of the reasons we use a car. With the erratic timetables of buses, it is difficult to plan ahead properly. And if the Italians can do it, why can’t we??? We make jokes about Italian organisation. But I can honestly say something. We are DECADES behind. Not a simple amount of years. But DECADES.
Somebody needs to explain to me how the hell do they manage to get a bus to the city centre every fifteen minutes in the countryside where houses are few and far in between? How is it even possible to EXACTLY plan where you are going by bus and be ASSURED that at that time, the bus WILL be there?
Bus tickets for the entire Emilia-Romagna region cost a miserly €1.30, less if purchased in bulk. Each ticket would have a 105minute time stamp on them. AND you can stamp the ticket at the END of your first journey.
A train ticket to Piacenza costs €3.80… Every train was clearly marked with what station it would stop through and at what time it would leave. This is ITALY for fuck’s sake… they CAN’T be that organized… or can they?
Cars in general were in a smaller number than what I envisaged. Buses galore, scooters abundant, and of course, many many bicycles. In a flat city, what could be better than a bicycle?
Of course, good luck with leaving a bicycle outside here!
The food is incomparable. We THINK we know food. We don’t. The pasta, the milk, butter, and the local produce such as beef, pepperoni, mortadella, vegetables… simply unreachable. With all that greenery I had no doubts. And as for ice-cream… suck me sideways!
The distribution of prices in living is also skewed. Supermarkets (especially CO-OP) are laughably cheap. But a simple hair-cut is not less than €15. Buying shoes or clothes requires taking a loan.
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Naturally there are problems everywhere, and if there is something which really made me sad, were the number of homeless. And the beggars. Typically the same number as in London. Not so much in the suburbs and outskirts, but in Bologna city centre, I was astounded to see a good number… Catholics were buying €2 candles to light for their deity, but turning their head away at the plaintive cry of a woman in help… It was heartbreaking.
I also think that the centre of the city requires more respect and graffiti was on practically every wall that had more than a metre of space available. Rush hour is chaotic, but between ten in the morning and four, the city is practically empty of people and traffic. There was nobody there!
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Around 4.30pm, the hordes start to emerge, and it is total panic until eight at night, when, once again, the city is deserted anew…
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It was, in all, a beautiful experience, and one which I want to repeat.

Spend! Spend! Spend!

Today, I am touching a subject which is to everyone’s heart. Money! (Or the lack of it!)

Granted, today we live in a consumer-centric society, and that the onus is to contribute more to the coffers of capitalism, but sometimes there are times when one has simply to stop and take stock of a situation that ultimately, threatens to run away with him.

I am of course, talking about the spending which occurs from the end of November to the end of December. Starting from the Black Friday deals all around the world, right up to the Christmas holidays and the New Year celebrations, people from all walks of life splash out on far more money than they have accumulated over the same period.

And let’s face it… some of the things on your wishlist suddenly become far more affordable than they could ever be. When is the best time to splash out if not on Black Friday? It’s true. I have fallen into the trap more than once myself. As an ardent gamer, I cannot resist really good deals. It’s inherent in all of us.

But are we really saving money? Is that gadget, service, whatever, really important to you? Will this purchase relieve you of a pressing desire or need? And most of all can we afford to buy this item instead of, say, food? Or clothing? Education even?

This goes on right through the Christmas season when it is customary for families to relax their grip on the kitty. Mothers and Fathers look on these occasions as the time of the year when it’s the ‘Time to be jolly, and forget the woes of a hard year.’

I tend to disagree. Many families splash out on expensive gifts, outings, meals with friends, using the same money they have worked so hard to put aside. While nothing illegal, it is totally illogical. You spend months slaving to save money only to splash it out on gifts which will (in my opinion) never make it past the first week of January?

This is nothing but madness. I am not adding to the mix something else entirely. People borrowing money via ‘soft loans’ on their credit cards. Money which has an insane interest on it, and where the minimum payment will not even scratch the surface.

It is quite common here in our country to talk to people who admit to having two debit cards each. Since it is laughably way to buy stuff online (you never SEE the money go out), we see families burdened with a ‘soft loan’ of around three thousand euros with little chance of paying it out completely.

So yeah, I could be called a grinch, but we are losing our ability to think clearly and realize that this constant bombardment of advertising is pushing us to limits that we will finally admit to have passed so many years back.

As an inquisitive person, I also nosed around to see what colleagues think about saving. Sadly, very little do any saving at all. And it’s not only because of the miserly pittance that passes as wages here, but also because we have lost the capability to do so.

Everybody wants a new car, a new computer, a new hair-do every week, nail technicians, gym memberships, a new mobile every year… but can we really afford them?

We are living beyond our means. WAY beyond it.

I cannot accept that. I cannot live in peace, laying my head on the pillow every night knowing that if the shit hits the fan, I cannot provide.

Sure, I spend money like everybody else, but at least, and this is thanks to a priceless lesson from a colleague at work, I first put away an amount of money from my salary for a rainy day, THEN a smaller amount for us to enjoy. After all, life is not all about work and saving. It’s about having the financial capability to make it through when the going gets tough, but also living comfortably.

And utilizing micro-management (for which an article will appear tomorrow), we are not only living better, we are also saving money easily. EASILY.

Live long and prosper.