Shedding light on the financial benefits of home solar panels
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 email@example.com. 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.