/ Home & Energy

Renewable energy installers need help to up their game

Man installing solar panels

Recent Which? research backs up our own findings at Energy Saving Trust – renewable energy companies aren’t giving the best advice to consumers. But it’s not as straightforward as it seems…

The Which? report on renewable energy companies showed that eight out of 12 installers underestimated the time it would take to pay itself back and seven didn’t explain that part of the roof was in the shade.

While these results may be worrying, they’re not entirely unexpected.

Regulators under pressure

In the 13 months since feed-in tariffs became available, uptake of electricity-producing technologies has already surpassed the previous government grant scheme – the Low Carbon Building Programme – which ran for four years. This rapid growth has placed the market under pressure and brought an influx of existing tradesmen into the green sector.

As the supply chain scrambles to keep up, it’s fallen to two industry-backed and government-approved schemes to help regulate the market. The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) sets industry standards for installers of small-scale renewables and the REAL Assurance Scheme covers all non-technical aspects of an installation, from pre-sale contact to post-installation services.

Our concern is that the rapid expansion of the small-scale renewable market has stretched the capabilities of both these schemes to safeguard the consumer against poor installation and customer service.

Better training is essential

It is also interesting to see that the Which? report echoes our own recent heat pump field trial report, which found that one critical aspect still to be addressed is training.

Throughout the UK, renewable energy training courses are on offer, designed to upskill existing plumbers and electricians in microgeneration technology installations. In the absence of a consistent standard, the quality of this training varies markedly, despite the work of organisations like SummitSkills, who are mapping current UK training courses to a National Occupational Standard.

It’s all too easy to blame the people installing the systems, but we found that installers themselves are concerned about the quality of training they receive. Training has tended to be manufacturer-led, rather than setting out an overview of the different setups for each microgeneration technology. Inevitably this leads to homeowners receiving inaccurate advice about the suitability or performance of a system.

We’re also worried about how installers are engaging with customers. The Which? report reveals instances where installers are using high-pressure sales techniques, something we hear through calls to our advice centres. This is strictly prohibited for any MCS-accredited installer, and yet it’s still happening.

How can the situation improve?

So what is the industry doing to put these wrongs right? We’re working with REAL Assurance scheme to safeguard customers at every stage. We will be publishing information on what information the installer should be providing, and how they’re expected to conduct their business activity.

We’re also working with industry stakeholders to develop agreed improvements to installation standards, based on empirical evidence. This industry-wide, government-backed, research-led standard has been recommended to the MCSBoard for immediate adoption.

For homeowners, we’ve developed a number of online tools and guidance materials to give homeowners who are considering an installation the information they need to make the best decision. The Energy Saving Trust cashback calculator, for example, calculates the expected performance of a system based on the householder’s data.

The Which? report points to clear lessons. As the small-scale renewable energy market grows at a phenomenal rate, it’s critical that industry works together to drive customer confidence and assurance. Installers and customers both need access to clear and impartial information, allowing them to make a balanced and informed choice of the right renewable energy for the right home.

Have you experienced any of the pushy sales tactics or misinformation highlighted here? Or have you had a good experience of solar PV companies? Are there lessons to be learnt from other growing industries?

Comments

“While these results may be worrying, they’re not entirely unexpected”
“Our concern is that the rapid expansion of the small-scale renewable market has stretched the capabilities of both these schemes to safeguard the consumer against poor installation and customer service.”

– Why is it that all the industry research never “finds” that a large part of the problem lies with profiteering?
As in the warmfront and boiler scrappage schemes, the cost of parts and labour rocketed artificially for increased profits!

“we found that installers themselves are concerned about the quality of training they receive.”
– They would be when questioned on why they are selling/fitting panels where the roof is in the shade!
They, like many other industries, dont want to be accused of mis-selling.

Bob W says:
24 June 2011

Hi
I am investigating installing solar PV panels on the flat roof of a building I rent out in south London. The location is ideal. Given the figures from Energy Savings Trust quoted by Which? (I get slightly less beneficial figures) the net return of £28k after a fixed term of 25 years from an investment of £16k seems to equate to an annual compound interest rate of 4+% allowing for no other costs over the lifetime of the project.
Smaller projects seem to be less attractive. Whilst these rates may be competitive at the moment, 25 years is a long term investment. Am I alone in seeing this as unattractive?

Sounds a bit on the high side with regards to the inital cost, but it will depend on scaffolding requirements etc.. Flat roof system will cost 5% 10% than angled roofs.

My system from PV Solar UK Ltd (http://freeelectricity4u.co.uk/) is making a healthy 11% return on investment at the moment from the feed in tartiff, energy savings and energy generation. It generating more than we expected during the long day light hours, although we do live in the Surrey, have a south facing roof, and no shading.
My advice is to focus on the company and payback years rather than efficiency on the panels or inverter. Why do you want a rolls royce sitting on your roof when a mini can do the job at half the cost?
“Solar is definitely working for me”!!!

dolly says:
27 January 2012

No, No, NO! If you possibly can, go for buying your own panels. We were first attracted by a similar offer but then we found out that we were in a perfect position re south facing, no trees etc. We had our panels installed by Vital Energi Solar (John Phillips) and he was excellent. To fit 16 panels on our roof to produce the highest domestic energy ( just under 4 kwh) cost us £12,500…you seem to be quoted WELL over the odds. Get more quotes! Afetr speaking to our financial advisor, he pointed out that we were unlikely to get a return anywhere near that for the similar amount of money we had in stocks and shares. Therfore, we cashed all the ones we had to purchase the panels. As a result, our monthly payment to the energy company has reduced by 40% (although it will probably go up again during the winter months but not to it’s previous height) plus we have just received a cheque for £255 for the power generated since the end of September 2011! We think this is a very good rate of return on our investment and we have the benefit now. Hope this helps.

My experience with Clear Sky Solar of Chelmsford, Essex was very good – must put them in Which Local !
I disliked the salesman but he offered a reasonable deal. I had used the Energy Saving Trust website and looked at whatever Which had to say so I was reasonably sure of what I needed, which helped. Encouragingly, the salesman made a point of checking for shading and used tables to work out roughly the amount of power I should expect given the angle and direction (facing east) of the roof and the amount of shading. The company then sent in a a design engineer to check the calculations and decide how and where the inverter should be connected into the mains. He then submitted a detailed plan of the property, panels and wiring for me to sign up to the contract. The scaffolding team and installation teams both arrived as planned and, a year on, the system has generated roughly the amount of power expected.

I was sufficiently impressed that I bought a second system for the west facing side of the roof. This is not generating quite as much as calculated despite having slightly higher output panels. I suspect that this is because cloud often bubbles up during the afternoon.

Overall, I expect to get close to 30,000kwh p.a from the two systems, yielding around an index linked £1300p.a. plus some free electricity from my £23k investment. If I get low maintenance costs; a steady increase in electriciy prices; only a slow decline in the output as the panels deteriorate; and partial return for my capital if the property is sold then it could turn out to be at least as good an investment as a typical 5-year building society bond. That is a lot of “if’s”, but even if things do go wrong, I’m still keen to do my bit for global warming.

eco says:
27 June 2011

Hi there,

FiTs are really great simulus for renewable electricity production…but it’s a favour to a special ones…..and to have 25 years guarantee FiTs is not a realistic…..
Comon…what is the real life of such installations?

Why the Government has to GUARANTEE for such a long period and to pay preferential price to the producers which have alreday used EU and grand money to build such parks? Is it because of the real economy and clear environment issues??

Why there is no FiT for the small producers (as family home or the industry companies which use the RES for their needs only)..if we want to be green society …so let allow all of us to use any kind of renewable stimilus…

Everyone says: It’s a green energy – without emissions, with a zero carbon footprint…? But what is the true? It’s not the zero emission and great environmental technologies? There are several reports that could prove that, but still are not so popuplar…

We have the same law..and thanks God it has been changed recently… You know what happen… it’s become a really modern to build Wind and PV parks…everyone started to build such parks….so lots of lands have been transformed to a building areas….It wasn’t good for the agricultural producers, animals and etc.. the lectricity grid didn’t have the capacity to connect all these new MWs….
Is it a real the best RES electricity market issue?

Hello

Thanks for your great input so far.

Two points to reply to Eco:
1. Which? was one of the only organisation who supported to ‘fast track’ changes to FIT as we believe that since FIT are paid for by consumers via our electricity bills, we should be the beneficiary, not private companies pocketing on solar farms. Also, solar energy is an expensive way to produce renewable electricity and is most efficiency at the domestic scale where it can be used ‘on site’.
2. The carbon footprint of technologies like solar PV is being much debated. Currently, the BPVA (British Photovoltaic Association) quotes a carbon ‘payback time’ of 3 years. In other words, after 3 years of operation, a solar PV system will start making net carbon savings. In the first 3 years, the ‘zero carbon’ electricity produces simply balances out the carbon generated during the production of the panels.

eco says:
27 June 2011

Hi Silvia,

Thanks for your prompt replay.
I like your mission and activities and the topics you publish a lot…and I am absolutely agree with you by point 1 ….
but please let me do not be absolutely agree with you by point 2.
3 years payback period of the PV parks carbons is not the correct one, not the realistic one …it’s not the even average – this is the private case only. There are also lots of other worldwise research organisations that could prove it. It could be 3, 5, 10 or even more…and you know it’s depends from lots variables instead of the standart static one as type of the cells, type of the electricity sources that is going to be replaced with this PV and etc…..
There are couple of practical examples of PV parks with 1-3 year payback period of the carbon quotes, but it’s an absolutely private cases up to now……
but you are right that the proved and standated metodology about it’s assesments is still under debates and all these vallues can not be pointed as a standart…

Yes, the PV is expencive technology, but I would like to add to my comment above and the issue that the real average payback period of the PV park is not 25 years…it’s depend of the cells, installed capacity and etc…but in general it’s almost twice shorter…so to keep receiving FiT durig the rest of years ….up to 25 is not correct….

JOHNKR66 says:
28 June 2011

Having watched the video and being in the direct sales business for over 22 years. id like to point out the comments made by your expert. when she insists on sending a surveyor and not a salesman. Well if you buy a house from a national builder who do you speak to first, the sales lady or the brickie, the plumber or the architect who drew up the plans. same is said for a new car do you speak to the sales guy or the mechanic, a new bathroom even a new carpet. you always speak to the sales person. so in my book you have that fact wrong.
sorry

Bob Clark says:
29 June 2011

Interesting to see the various comments re Solar Panels in both Which & On Line. One thing that has not been metioned so far seems to have been the relative efficency of the Panels fitted. I note that Huston Clements (In Which July) has had 22 panels fitted for 4kw. I have had 16 on my roof to produce the same amount. They did cost more and my system was £17,300.00 BUT have just received a payment of £620.00 for Mar/Apr/May so envisage the “Pay Back” period to in fact be SOONER than the one forecasted! That is provided we do not get a long period of dull weather. The big thing to remember is that the more efficent the panels the more electricity they produce in DULL weather where the less efficient fall away badly. I am very fortunate in that my son is in the “Photovoltaic Industry in the USA” and he stressed to me the importance of getting the most efficient Panels. My forecasted generation of electricity was 3352 kwh per year, my system was
installed at the very end of February, so as I write this four months later my generation is to date
1872 kwh. That is a lot more than 50% already (And the sun is shining today!!!)

I had a number of quotes for fitting with not a lot of difference in price using Sanyo Panels, but quite a bit of difference using less efficient Panels. I did not go for the cheapest but used JHS Solar who have been in the business for some time and seemed to know a lot more about it than a lot of them.
Some were to put it bluntly “Very Vague” and lacked a lot of knowledge on how things worked.

I can recommend them as professional and very competant with the work they do.
“Solar is definitely working for me”!!!

Hossa says:
29 June 2011

I am in the process of getting quotes for solar panels, but as yet i have no idea which is the best make or the most efficient. Anybody got any advice on what to buy?????????

J B says:
29 June 2011

Why was the Which survey not concerned about the cost of this type of installation? I’m referring to the cost in other countries. Having recently returned from Victoria, Australia, the cost of a solar panel installation is a fraction of the cheapest price quoted in July Which Magazine. I have in front of me an ad for solar panel installation in a free paper quoting A$2990 fully installed for a 1.52kW system. We seem once again to be suffering from profiteering or basic rip offs.
A television program on solar installations in Germany was recently aired on BBC. Once again no mention of the cost to people there. Is there some conspiracy?

ALLAN J CHAMBERS says:
30 June 2011

I had solar panels installed in June 2010 at a cost of £13300 and this year I will have recived £1400 in FIT and Electricity company contributions. I can not assess what return I might have saved on my electricity bill due to some erratic meter reading in 2010.
My roof faces south/south /west and none of the suppliers tried to suggest I should have panels on other facades.
I had two quotes around the contract price but others were £20,000-£24,000 . Potential suppliers did suggest that my saving on my electricity bill would be greater than the figure of £100-£150 now suggested by most contributors.
Based on this years figures, not allowing for discounted cost, my scheme should pay back in 9 years.
None of the companies I contacted suggested that the inverter would need replacing in 10 years.
The companies certainly did not use the REAL Model Contract Document and most of them were contracturaly naive. They were also paper companies with little or no assets. With the advanced payment system encouraged by MCS and Real this gives marvellous cash flow with the possibility that companies with good credit rating could receive full payment after incurring only limited initial cost.Such advanced payments should be discouraged and the Real Model document needs adjustment to sensibly apply to residential property.
MCS should also be less willing to approve paper companies with limited experience and no appreciable assets. One of the companies I approached previously sold fire extinguishers others were IT firms.
The company I used was solar Advanced Systems. I paid my deposit on June 1 and they completed on June 17. I paid by cheque on June 18.
The control by Real and the approval of contractors by MCS leaves a lot to be desired.
I would like to hear of a project that applied fully the Real Model Contract particularly the control of deposits.
To pay 25% up front encourages “cow boys”. What other business would encourage such an approach

Jerry H says:
30 June 2011

I was cold called by SolarFusion a number of times and I went onto their website and it seemed a long established company (2004) so I arranged for a visit by the salesman. I was interested in both PV and Thermal and he proposed the Thermal on the garage roof and the PV split between the garage roof and another roof, we have a flat roof joining the two. He presented a hard sale offering a 4K discount for the two systems if we did a monitoring programme for a month and signed up straight away. I absolutely hate these selling techniques but reluctantly agreed. Over the weekend I realised that we had been correctly informed that the PV had a manufacturers warranty of 25 years but no mention that the Thermal was only 5 years and the Invertor was only 4 years. Also the meagre 2 year warranty on installation was only for the PV and not for the Thermal which was actually only 1 year, we also asked to speak to a few exisiting customers who had more than 4 years experience. Anyway over the weekend we elected to cancel the order and get our deposit back. We got a phone call from SolarFusion asking why the change of mind and I explained that the system was sold soley on what the government was offering and not on what SolarFusion was offering. They increased the warranty for the Thermal installation, the Thermal panels and the Inverter and we decided to go ahead but we never received a connection with an existing customer. The PV installers arrived first and saw no reason as to why the system should be split, so all 10 panels went on the inside roof and they did, what appears to be, an excellent instal. The 10 units are rated to give 1.8KWh which having read the Which Report appears to be less than usual although 10 panels seems a lot. The Thermal system had a surveyor come prior to the system being installed and he offered no choices or options. The system in June is only just substituting the boiler so for most the year it can serve only as a pre heat for the boiler and although I have had written confirmation that the system is set up to do this, I can’t follow how it works by looking at the installation. The Thermal water tank has two coils but only the bottom coil has been utilised. This is the flow to and from the roof. The feed to the hot tapes etc comes from the top of the tank but has an automated switch which opens the feed only when the water is above 45 otherwise the combi boiler feeds the hot tapes. The cold feed to the combi bolier does not seem to be fed by the Thermal tank although this is what is claimed. I think I need a heat engineer to explain how it works but besides this query the installers did a tidy job. We have been told the tarriff feed back can take up to 6 weeks so we await that. We seem to still have a number of unclear issues including, interestingly, we were informed that the tarriff was paid for 20 year indexed linked whilst the Which report states 25 years indexed linked. I shall need to have clarification on all these outstanding issues before I can be confident in recommending this company

Bob Clark says:
30 June 2011

In reply to Hossa I would suggest he looks at the Sanyo Web site. I installed Hit240 panels which were at that time the most efficient, I know that they have a newer one now which is even more productive. It was not available in an “Approved” form when I installed and I was told would not be cleared until about now. Make sure you get an installer who has been doing the job for some time, it is fairly easy to check this as they will have a low MCS number. (Certified Installation No.)
As with all things improvements are happening all the time. Ask a lot of questions and get several quotes. Use your own judgment and remember the cheapest is not necessarily the best.

In Reply to J.B.

I am looking at an advert in “Yesterdays” paper which quotes systems from £6999, (Get back up to £2100.00 per year) when you read the small print it is only for a 5 panel system and you need a 3.9kw to get the £2100.00 which is over 3 times the size (AND NO DOUBT PRICE).
“Beware the Cowboys” They have got their “Lasso’s” out.

One other point I would like to raise is that a lot of the lower quality panels do in fact have a “Fall off” in output when they get very hot in the sun.

David Barnes says:
30 June 2011

I had a 3kw pv system installed on my house in North Devon in May 2010 by a firm called Affordable Energy from Colchester in Essex. They were very professional and checked my roof for shading, direction etc. The surveyor was here for most of the morning and provided a very detailed survey of our roof. The company kept me informed all the way through as it was during a time when there was a delay in the supply of convertors nationally. The installation was done very professionally with only the best panels (therefore slightly more expensive). No mention was made however about the length of time the converter would last. Their forecast of how many units I would generate was well below what I actually generated. They estimated 2250 kwh and I actually generated 2900 kwh in 12 months. Well worth doing.

Nice to read some positive experiences also of the industry.
On the point of cost, what our investigation showed was quite a big difference in cost when taken in terms of £/kW. Although the relationship between cost and kW is not linear, it was quite surprising that even within a small range of 1 to 4 kW, prices varied between £3,900 to £9,900 per kW.
The industry is saying that prices will drop over time. Do you believe this is true? And if so, when?

Tony Brett says:
3 July 2011

Yes – the prices of panels are dropping pretty fast now. And more installers makes more competition so prices are also dropping. That’s exactly what FITS was meant to do – stimulate the market for PV so more is installed.

I think Solar PV should be compulsory on all suitable new buildings as it works so well. Our 3.33kWp system was installed quickly, expertly and efficiently by a local company, Next Generation Solar, and we are 100% delighted with it.

Stuart A Green says:
2 July 2011

Solar PV System

I found your article on Solar PV Systems very interesting. I purchased the system on my roof in the summer of 2009. From April to December 2010 it generated £767.11 of electricity, between January and March this year it generated £99.21of electricity. None of the electricity is used in the home.

The system consists of 18 panels manufactured by Schott on the roof. The total generation capacity is 2.88KW. The generation tariff is 41.3p / KWh, the export tariff is 3p / KWh. The system was installed by Rayotec Ltd of Sunbury-on-Thames. The cost of supplying and installing the system was £21,619.50p. I received a grant of £2,500.00p from the BERR Low Carbon Buildings programme.

I cannot remember how I came to buy the system through Rayotec. I was not sufficiently wise to obtain quotations from other suppliers! Their surveyor was very thorough and considered the aspect and the angle of slope of the roof before the quotation was supplied. No mention was made of any significant maintenance and in particular the possible replacement of the inverter. There was no indication of the time taken for complete payback.

I still have all the correspondence associated with the purchase of the system. Scottish and Southern Energy are FIT Licensee. In my mind they are very slow in paying the generation tariff. For instance any payment for the period April to December 2010 was not made until February 2011.

Of future interest, it has been reported that the Government is preparing to invoke emergency powers to turn off the nation’s electricity in a bid to shield Britain from the worst effects of the biggest solar flare for 150 years. How will a solar flare effect people who have installed PV systems?

Tony Brett says:
3 July 2011

The generation tariff for sub-4kWp systems is actually 43.3p/kWh now and the export tariff is 3.1p/kWh. They changed on 1st April 2011.

On the solar flare, this firstly sounds like a hoax story but if it is true there is nothing to worry about as all grid-connected Solar PV systems have to shut down if there is no mains supply. This is for safety as if the electricity company has switched off the mains for work in the street they don’t want customers energising it via their own generators!

Tony Brett says:
3 July 2011

The advice in the article “We recommend that you do not buy too large a system as you cannot meeting 100% of your demand with Solar PV” is utter rubbish. You can’t meet 100% of your demand because it’s dark sometimes! It’s nothing to do with the installed capacity of your system. The more you can install the better as it means the ancillary costs (scaffolding, wiring, inverter etc.) get more diluted in the price per Wp

Having a bigger system means you get more FITS payments and the big plus is that it generates enough to cover your background load (Fridge, Freezer, Aquarium etc.) even on a dull day so you avoid importing electricity.

We have a 3.33kWp system and even on the dullest of days it manages to generate at a few hundred watts. That’s enough to offset the background load so our electricity import has reduced drastically. We’ve imported (bought) 471kWh of electricity from 31 Mar 2011 to 30 Jun 2011. That compares compares very well to 934kWh that we imported in the same period in 2010 before having the PV generator.

Ian Jackson says:
3 July 2011

I rely on Which for guidance on many purchases but I have got to say this report, on a subject I know a little bit about is poor on several fronts. On what basis can you confidently state that suppliers are overstating potential outputs. I am an active member of a Transition group encouraging installation of Renewable Energy systems. Every installation I am aware of in overperforming against the original quotations, on my 3.84 system (west facing) installed at home by over 19% for the last 3 months. I also support the comment above about installing a system lat is not too large. What rubbish. The larger the system the better payback as the fixed installation and inverter costs will be spread over the larger system. Finally whoever wrote the article has never picked up one of the extremely light PV panels.You are in a unique position to carry out a national survey on how these systems are really performing to help people considering taking this decision.

Tony Brett says:
3 July 2011

Well said Ian. I too am shocked at how poor this Which? report is.

I’m pretty appalled at the damage this Which? article will do to the uptake of Solar PV both in terms of number of installations and total kWp installed. I agree about the weight of panels too. We have 18xSharp NU185s which weigh about 16kg each. That’s a total of about 3-4 people’s worth of weight. Hardly too much to put on the roof!

I’ve been a Which? member for a long time but I must say, this and the fact that the feedback panel just emailed me a new password in plain text with no security at all is seriously making me wonder if Which? is having a bit of a competency failure at the moment and if my (not cheap) monthly subscription is actually worth it any more.

I seem to use free reviews on the internet rather more when making purchasing decisions these days and they seem rather more useful than some of the opinions Which? publishes.

(I should add I have no commercial interest in any Solar PV companies and am not part of any groups encouraging any sort of sustainable energy production)

Hello

Thank you for your comments Tony and Ian, which we take really seriously.

I just wanted to add a few points of clarification for our readers:

On the point about the size of the system, if you look at solar PV as an investment and want to maximise return, then yes, the closer you get to 4kWp, the more money you should be making since the relationship between system size and cost is not linear and cost/kW drops with size. Our view is to also take into account cost to all consmers, not jst those who can afford solar PV and have a suitable location for it, since we’re all paying for FIT through our electricity bills. We believe that FIT is not the most cost-effective way to produce electricity for the national grid. Whilst we support decentralised energy and people generating their own clean energy for their own use, we believe than exporting electricity produced by domestic solar PV is not the best use of consumer’s money (46.4p/kW!). Hence the comment about sizing the system for your own needs and not oversizing as this would ultimately cost all consumers via their electricity bills.

On the point about damage to the industry, we certainly do not want to damage this industry, but to protect consumers and make sure all consumers considering solar PV get a good experience and the right advice. We do not think that pressure selling should be allowed and, incidently, this in itself could damage the industry in the long-term if trust is lost. What we want is to work with Government, trade bodies and the industry to set things right and are currently busy meeting with officials to see how the methodology used to predict power output could be improved to be made more accurate and to stop loopholes in the current certification schemes and increase enforcement of the REAL consumer code.

Tony Brett says:
22 July 2011

There seems to be confusion about whether the article is for the benefit of all electricity consumers or just people with Solar PV and getting paid under the FIT Scheme.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard you advise people not to challenge parking tickets on the basis that it costs more to all council tax payers?

I’ve seen your reply in the letter in the August Edition of the magazine and you state a reason for not having a bigger PV system is that renewable energy is best used locally at the point of generation. Well a bit of homework would show you that it probably gets used by the next house in the street on the same phase. Unless the local microgenerator(s) is/are actually generating enough electricity to exceed the whole load on the local substation (and that seems extremely unlikely!) then the generated electricity is being used locally!

Mike T says:
5 July 2011

I’ve had Solar Panels installed with no issues at all with the supplier.The job was done over two days and all the paperwork (pages of it ) delivered 48 hours later.T
Then I tried to get the necessary FIT application form from my elec supplier, EDF. After four days, four phone calls ( some waiting over 20 minutes in a queue) plus an e-mail , I eventually made contact and the paperwork was e-mailed to me.
The joke is that they require the application straight away, within 5 days of installation (why ?), but they don’t have the ability to deal with the rush of applications.I’m told that I should have confirmation by September !