Financial

Solar PV generates financial benefits in three ways: Energy Saving, Energy Export and Feed in Tariffs.

 

Energy Saving

All the energy the installation generates is first used to power loads on site. Therefore, every unit of energy generated and used is one unit less to buy. When you consider that the average price of domestic electricity has risen by around 79% between 2004 and 2011 and is currently rising at over 6%pa its easy to see how future savings are only likely to increase over time.  So as energy prices rise, so will the savings you will be making.

If you have an immersion tank, nearly all energy produced on site can be utilized by directing any excess into heating your hot water for use long after the sun has set and your PV has shut down for the day. For more information on this, follow our link to Turbo Charging your PV

Energy Export (non-commercial)

Any excess energy generated that is not used on site is automatically exported for the rest of the local electricity network to benefit from.

In non-commercial installations this figure is not metered directly, but an assumption is made that half the total energy generated by your PV system is used on site while half is exported.

For those at home during the day or for those who use the myriad of new home automation devices coming onto the market this assumption works very much in their favour as to use as much of the energy generated during daylight hours means spending less at others, for example, programming the washing machine to work during the day will save you buying electricity had you done the washing at night.

Feed in Tariff

The final part of the puzzle is that of Feed in Tariffs. These are payments made for all the energy the system generates irrespective of whether that energy is used on site or exported. To measure this, a separate meter is attached to the solar PV circuit and clocks up the energy produced rather like the mileometer (odometer) of a car. It is from the readings obtained from this meter that the assumed amount of energy export (see above) is calculated. Meter readings will be taken periodically by you and submitted to the utility provider who will either pay you or credit your energy account. In the case of a landlord and tenant, these payments can be assigned to another person.

The payments are government backed, paid for up to 25 years and index linked. Above all, unless energy generation is your business, the Feed in Tariff payments are made tax free, offering a far better return than an Isa!!

 

Energy Shortfall –

World population is growing faster than ever before and so are our demands upon energy. From 2014, several older coal and nuclear power stations are due to close creating a serious gap between the amount of electricity the UK will want to use and the amount that it will be able to produce. The UK has already exceeded the peak of production attainable from North Sea oil and gas and already gets a significant amount of power from France and Russia with all the political uncertainties that brings. The promotion of renewable energy will help plug this gap and reduce the threat of black-outs that could pose a significant risk to businesses and cost billions of pounds.

 

Green Tariffs

Utility suppliers of gas and electricity are under pressure from governments around the world to generate more electricity from sustainable or renewable energy sources and to reduce carbon output. As a result, they are keen to buy the green energy you produce in order to help balance their books.  As a result, many now offer special Green Tariffs for those who install microgeneration technologies. 

 

Commercial & non profit organisations –

Although many grants to aid commercial and non-profit organisations install solar PV and wind turbines have been cut, interest free loans from the Carbon Trust may still be available to those who can demonstrate that by upgrading their facilities they will be reducing their carbon footprint. For more information on what is currently available, contact the Carbon Trust or click on our link on the home page.

 

Feed in Tariff  explained-

Feed-in Tariffs were introduced by the government through legislation.  The legislation obligates utility companies to pay a set amount of money for each unit (kWh) of renewable electricity produced.  Most EEC member states have similar schemes in one form or another:  Germany is probably the leader in the field, having invested heavily over the last 20 years, but with, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium, Slovak Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary have all adopted these incentives. 

Feed in tariffs began in April 2010 with each tranch lasting in payment for 20-25 years depending upon technology. The price per kWh is set when the installation is commissioned but raised each year inline with RPI . Each year a new tranch will be released, in turn lasting for up to 25 years, however after 2012 each year the initial rate slowly drops. This discourages individuals from waiting to invest due to beliefs that the price for the technology will come down.  The later you invest – the less you will receive for your generation. The aim is to encourage investment now, not in later years with a target return on solar PV investment of between 7 -10%. This excludes potential added capital value to the property to which it is installed.

Following changes in government strategy, a new range of tariffs are proposed to be implemented from April 2012.  These revised figures have been brought about for a number of reasons, not least that fact that the cost of key components has fallen considerably over the time that the scheme has been in operation and while tariff figures may look lower, returns remain pretty much on a par with what they have always been, but with the added advantage that far less capital expenditure is required for those investing in solar PV, making it attainable for more people.

However, aligned with this new tranch of tariffs is the requirement for home owners to have an energy performance evaluation of their property carried out and measures put in place to bring the energy efficiency of residential properties up to performance level D. Many newer properties will already be at this level, in fact any property built from the late 90`s onwards should meet this target without the need for any improvement. Even those built earlier may only need slight improvement, such as increasing loft insulation, fitting low energy lighting or having thermostatic valves fitted to radiators for example. But no need to worry, Oakwood Energy Systems can arrange for an independent survey to be carried out and for any remedial work to be undertaken.

For current and historical Feed in Tariff data, please visit the OFGEM website – www.ofgem.gov.uk

So what should I look out for when buying solar PV?

There are many differing types  of system available today and it goes without saying that quality varies enormously.

Quality counts.

Cheap panels and inverters may look like a good deal on paper but often performance is measured under optimum conditions and does not reflect true longer term performance. There is a myriad of choice that requires careful guidance to deliver the best performance. Panels need to be correctly chosen for their location – if by the sea, are they tested against salt spray? Which type of silicon works best and in which location? What cable should be used and in what part of the installation to minimise energy loss?  Is the inverter manufacturer able to offer a 25 year guarantee? 

Then there are cosmetic differences; do you opt for bright chrome or subtle black frames or frameless? Should panels sit on top of a roof or fit seamlessly into it? Will the installer be local and come back if ever the equipment requires servicing? Will the installer subcontract the installation out to electricians not trained in designing or installing inverters or use teams not trained in roofing and building?

Quality counts in both the selection of the equipment and the method of installation. Paying a little more can make a large difference.   Over 25 years a few hundred pounds saved at outset could equate to several thousand lost.

Installing solar PV is a worthy investment. Its one of the only things you can buy for your house that will pay for itself so its worth paying a little extra for and getting right.