In the UK we receive a vast amount of solar energy which can be compared to the yearly output of 1,000 power stations. The best way to harness this free source of energy is through the installation of solar PV modules. Solar cells convert light into electrical power and are made of specially treated thin wafers of silicon, which when light hits them a small electric current is generated. Typically there is around 60 solar cells on each solar module.
The electricity produced by the cells is direct current (DC), so an inverter is used to convert it to alternating current (AC) which is what is commonly used in our homes.
Solar panels have no moving parts and therefore extremely low maintenance when installed properly. Natural rainwater should keep the modules clean and a solar system generally has a lifespan in excess of 25 years making solar an exceptionally reliable investment.
Solar Photovoltaic systems use the sun as fuel to create electricity. It is considered environmentally friendly because the sun is a natural energy source that does not require the burning of fossil fuels and the associated air pollution. In addition, it is considered renewable since the energy produced from the sun does not deplete any natural resources, and will never run out.
Renewable energy refers to energy that occurs naturally and repeatedly in the environment. Therefore, it does not release any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In the UK, in 2013 14.9% of electricity was produced from renewable sources (source: gov.uk).
Using renewable energy sources can offer a wide range of benefits:
• lower energy bills and Income from the FiT
• energy price stability
• security of energy
• 'green' credentials
• selling surplus electricity back to the grid
Each kWh of electricity generated saves 0.44548kgCO2 meaning that a 4kW system will reduce the properties Carbon Footprint by over 2 Tonnes of CO2 per year.
Our customers benefit from generating their own electricity and therefore experience reduced electricity bills. In addition to this our customers will benefit from the government feed-in tariff which is made up of two parts.
A generation tariff is paid for every kWh your system generates. An additional export tariff is paid for any excess electricity that is produced and sold back to the national grid. These feed-in tariffs are index linked, tax free and guaranteed for 20 years. Currently a 4kWp system installed in Brighton on an unshaded, South Facing 40 Degree pitched roof systems can expect to generate over 4000 kWh/year which means an income of £670 from the FiT Generation and Export Tariffs and bill savings of £260. If the system was a normal On Roof type and utilised typical product selections this would mean a 6-7 year pay back after which the the FiT income will continue for 20 years and Electricity bill savings for the lifetime of the system. Additionally the system will reduce the buildings carbon footprint by over 2000Kg of CO2 per year.
Very little maintenance is required if a solar system is designed and installed properly. Panels should be tilted at 15 degrees or more to ensure rainfall cleans the panels adequately. The panels have a life expectancy of 25 years or more before they need replacing. The inverter may need replacing slightly before this but your overall system life expectancy is longer than 20 years meaning no extra cost for as long as your feed in tariffs are guaranteed.
Figures above are based on Jan-April 2015 FiT rates (Generation Tariff 13.88p/kWh, Export 4.77p/kWh) and assumes an electricity cost of 12.7p/kWh.