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Green myths and misconceptions

When you run a business in the environmental energy sector, you often come across false preconceptions

WHEN YOU run a business in the environmental energy sector, you often come across false preconceptions. Here are some ideas to be careful of:

‘You need to be a taxpayer to get green tax credits’

Tax credits are financial incentives available from the French government for certain professionally installed eco products. They are available to those whose principal residence is France but you do not have to pay tax to benefit from these. If you do pay tax in France, these crédits d’impôt are set against your tax bill.

However if you do not pay tax here, for example if your pension or earnings put you below the tax threshold, then the taxman will send you a cheque.

For the remainder of 2010, tax credits remain highest for solar systems. They qualify for a reimbursement of 50% of the product cost (including VAT).

It is expected that the amount of tax credits available will be reduced for 2011, so this could be an opportunity too good to miss.

‘Eco loans are available for any home efficiency improvements you make’

The eco-prêt scheme offers interest free loans of up to €30,000, available through high street banks, for certain eco installations.

However, to qualify you need to install at least two accepted eco-friendly products at the same time – such as solar panels and home insulation. One is not enough.

Alternatively you can sign up for a full energy efficiency improvement package – a professional will advise what needs doing to improve your home’s efficiency rating.

‘Solar thermal systems for domestic hot water only work in the summer’

This is a popular misconception that I have heard many times. For flat plate collectors, this is true – they are always fighting the ambient temperature and need heat to work.

However, for evacuated-tube systems, this is not true. These products use light, not heat, to function and will work in winter as well.

If they are properly vacuum-sealed, they do not care how hot or cold it is.

‘Selling solar electricity back to EDF is a good deal’

I understand from talk within the industry that EDF is currently trying to reduce the amount it pays to solar photovoltaic domestic energy producers, and from 2011 the amount is to be reduced year on year.

I suspect EDF can afford very good lawyers and I am sure there is a get-out clause in those contracts.

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