bout Solar Panels
Solar panels contain photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into an electric current. This passes through an inverter to make it instantly usable as electricity in homes and workplaces, schools and hospitals. Any surplus electricity automatically feeds back into the national grid.
Money-wise, solar PV can provide most, if not all of your daytime electricity, meaning that your electricity bills will be greatly reduced. On top of that, the electricity that you generate, including the power that you use, will be purchased by your energy company, making you money in the process. For households generating electricity mainly for their own use, the income will be tax-free.
The government has guaranteed the price that your energy company must pay you for clean electricity with a feed-in tariff. This is much higher than the normal cost of electricity, and is guaranteed at a high rate for 25 years. The feed-in tariff is index-linked for inflation so that it always outperforms other energy prices. It will continue to make you money for the lifetime of your PV system.
Good for the environment
Solar PV generates electricity cleanly: it does not emit pollutants or carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for damaging our climate. Solar panels almost always pay back the carbon used to make them in under 4 years. Once installed, solar energy requires no fuel from non-renewable sources, running purely from sunshine. This means it is sustainable, not depleting the earth's finite resources.
Installation and maintenance
Solar panels can be fitted to most existing roofs or mounted on the ground. They can also be incorporated into tiles, cladding, facades or custom-made roofing for more integrated designs. Panels can be fitted to a single house to provide it with electricity, or to large-scale developments such as a farm, where huge amounts of electricity will be sold to the energy company for profit. Existing roofs will always be surveyed to ensure that they can hold the arrays, although most standard roofs (apart from thatch) are compatible with the panels. The PV panels do not cause any damage to the roof or property.
No planning permission is needed for solar PV installations, although check with your local council if you are fitting to a listed building or in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.
Installation of solar PV is straightforward, requiring a small amount of rewiring inside the building and the external mounting of the panels. Once up and running, you don't need to do anything at all to harness the electricity or sell it back to the grid: it all happens unattended. There is very little maintenance involved with the system. Solar panels usually last for 25 years.
Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity even when it is cloudy and during winter. Dirt is washed off naturally when it rains. Although panels will be at their best when there is no shade on the PV cells and they are positioned at an optimum angle and direction, we adapt installations to maximise their effectiveness in each case. When it is dark at night your building will automatically switch to the national grid for any electricity you require.
Each PV system gives out readings of how much electricity it is producing, allowing us to keep an eye on its performance and you to see how much money you are making from your very own generator.
Solar PV systems are custom-designed for each individual installation, so the price varies. As a guideline, a 2.2kW array, which would fit on a typical 3-4 bedroom house and provide all of its daytime electricity, plus a healthy surplus to feed in to the national grid, would cost around £9,500. With income from the feed-in tariffs and savings on electricity, the installation would have paid for itself in under 10 years, leaving another 15 years of profit generation.
This price includes the whole design and installation process and aftercare.