Shed­ding light on the fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits of home so­lar pan­els

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Sharon Dale

RU­MOURS are cir­cu­lat­ing about Govern­ment plans to scrap gen­er­ous feed-in tar­iffs and any­one think­ing about fit­ting so­lar photo voltaic pan­els is be­ing urged to buy them now.

The scheme guar­an­tees a min­i­mum pay­ment for any elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated, as well as a sep­a­rate pay­ment for the ac­tual amount of elec­tric­ity ex­ported to the Na­tional Grid.

Ac­cord­ing to the Low Car­bon En­ergy Com­pany, a sim­ple 1kWp (kilo­watt peak) do­mes­tic sys­tem cost­ing less than £5,900 could pay you about £400 a year – or £10,000 over its life­time.

So­lar PV pan­els will typ­i­cally gen­er­ate about 25 per cent of an av­er­age house­hold’s elec­tric­ity re­quire­ments – and that can be max­imised by us­ing en­ergy-guz­zling ap­pli­ances like wash­ing ma­chines and dry­ers dur­ing day­light hours when the in­put from the pan­els is at its high­est.

One par­tic­u­lar ben­e­fit of in­stalling PV is that the pan­els do not re­quire a lot of di­rect sun­shine. Richard Garth-Jones, co­founder and di­rec­tor of The Low Car­bon En­ergy Com­pany, says: “It is light, and not heat, that drives these pan­els. Bri­tish day­light is quite pow­er­ful enough, as well as be­ing com­pletely free.

“It may have been Ein­stein’s No­bel Prize-win­ning work that set us on the path to PV pan­els, but you don’t need to be a ge­nius to work out that ex­plor­ing the po­ten­tial of tried and tested PV panel technology for your home or busi­ness makes sense.”

Some com­pa­nies are of­fer­ing to fit for free in re­turn for the feed-in tar­iff in­come

Richard Garth-Jones says: “Too few peo­ple fully un­der­stand the true value of what it is they are giv­ing away. The mon­e­tary re­turn that peo­ple re­ceive from the feed-in tar­iff scheme makes this kind of ar­range­ment a highly lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­nity.

“While the idea of tak­ing out a loan in or­der to pay for the pan­els your­self may not seem at­trac­tive so­lu­tion at first, once they do the sums, we ex­pect that most house­hold­ers will change their minds.”

For more de­tails and to check whether your home faces the right way for in­stalling PV pan­els, tel: 0845 680 8963 or email info@low­car­bonen­er­gy­company.co.uk. Q: Is a 1kWp (kilo­watt peak) sys­tem big enough to sup­port the av­er­age house? How much does the av­er­age three-to four-bed house re­quire and how much would a so­lar photo voltaic sys­tem cost? A: The av­er­age UK house­hold us­age is about 4,000kwh a year. This equates to a cost of about £440. A 1 kWp sys­tem will pro­duce around 850kWh, but with the feed-in tar­iff and the ben­e­fit of the elec­tric­ity you use your­self, this would give you an an­nual net ben­e­fit of around £440. So in a sense a 1kWp sys­tem will sup­port an av­er­age size prop­erty. Q: How many pan­els would the av­er­age house need and where do we put them? My roof is al­ready full of Velux win­dow but I have a large garage next to the house. A: An av­er­age house could sup­port be­tween six to12 pan­els and they can be sited any­where you have room, even free stand­ing in the gar­den. Q: Do I need plan­ning per­mis­sion? A: No, un­less you are in a con­ser­va­tion area. Q: How dis­rup­tive is the in­stal­la­tion, ie in­doors – do I need a new elec­tric­ity me­ter and what about out­doors? I am wor­ried about my roof. A: There is very lit­tle in­ter­nal dis­rup­tion, usu­ally just a sin­gle cable is run from the loft space to the ex­ist­ing fuse box/con­sumer unit. Out­doors, a scaf­fold is re­quired with the in­stal­la­tion tak­ing a cou­ple of days at most. The roof will be left in as wa­ter­tight state as found.

Q: This is rel­a­tively new tech- nol­ogy in Bri­tain. What kind of main­te­nance do PVs re­quire and what do I do if they mal­func­tion? A: With no mov­ing parts, most in­stal­la­tions re­quire no reg­u­lar main­te­nance. How­ever, some sites opt for pe­ri­odic in­spec­tion and “health checks”. If a panel were to fail it would be re­placed un­der guar­an­tee, usu­ally 20 years. Q: I am concerned that the feed-in tar­iff may be scrapped af­ter a year or so and I will not get the ex­pected re­turn. What are my le­gal rights here? A: Your tar­iff is a con­tract with the en­ergy provider and as such can­not be ter­mi­nated be­fore the 25-year term is up. Q: The qual­ity of some of the pan­els has been called into ques­tion. How do I know they are good qual­ity/tried and tested? A: Like any prod­uct it’s wise to in­ves­ti­gate. There has been a flood of cheaper pan­els on to the mar­ket. Choose an in­staller that uses a tried and tested wellestab­lished brand with a good track record, such as Sharp, Schuco or Ky­ocera. Make sure that your in­staller is cer­ti­fied un­der the Mi­cro­gen­er­a­tion Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Scheme (if they are not, your sys­tem will not be el­i­gi­ble for feed-in tar­iffs).

TRIED AND TESTED TECHNOLOGY: So­lar pho­to­voltaic pan­els from the Low Car­bon En­ergy Com­pany.

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