Solar Panels in the UK

solar panelsDespite being this far north of the equator, you can still harness energy from the sun to generate power in the UK. Solar panel electricity systems, or solar photovoltaics (PV) don’t need direct sunlight to work. On cloudy and overcast days, you can still generate cheap, green electricity.

As sunlight is free, you can enjoy an immediate reduction in your energy bills after the cost of the initial outlay for your solar PV system. It is a wise investment in many ways, but did you know that you can also receive extra income from the power you generate? You may have heard of the government’s Feed-In Tariffs, which essentially means that you can generate your own solar energy and sell the surplus back to the grid.

We all want to reduce our carbon footprints and installing solar panels is a great place to start. Solar energy is renewable and it comes from an abundant source. It doesn’t use fossil fuels or release any pollutants into the atmosphere. Typically, your home solar PV system could reduce your carbon footprint by over one tonne per year. So, you could potentially reduce your emissions by 30 tonnes over the course of your system’s lifetime.


Benefits of the Feed-in Tariff

If you choose to generate your own renewable energy with the help of a certified installer, you may qualify for the Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT). This financial incentive was introduced in 2010, to encourage the uptake of renewable electricity generating technologies.

This covers a number of technologies including:

  • Solar PV panels
  • Wind turbines
  • Hydroelectricity

The FiT has three main benefits:

Savings on your electricity bill: You will see an immediate drop in your electricity bill once you have installed your system.

Generation tariff: If you decide to start generating you own electricity and you are eligible for the FiT, your energy supplier may pay you for each unit (kWh) of electricity that your system generates.

The tariff rates are for a guaranteed for a set period of up to 20 years. Because the Feed-in Tariff rate is index-linked, you don’t have to worry about inflation. The tariff rates are set to increase in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI).

Export tariff: If you generate surplus electricity, your energy supplier may also pay you a further 4.77p/kWh for each unit of energy exported back to the grid. Currently, companies estimate that you will export 50% of the power you generate.

You will have to meet certain criteria to qualify for the FiT and have your system installed by an MCS certified installer. For more information visit the Energy Saving Trust website


How Solar PV works

Solar PV systems consist of photovoltaic cells created from semi conducting material such as silicon, which is built up in layers. The light from the sun hits the cells, generating an electric field across these layers.

Cells produce more electricity in stronger sunlight, but they still generate power on overcast, cloudy days. These cells are mounted in modules or panels which can be fitted on your roof, to ensure maximum exposure to the sun.

The electricity generated by a solar PV cell is measured by the speed at which it generates power during its optimal performance. The technical term is kilowatts peak(kWp). This peak performance occurs during the summer in direct, strong sunlight.

Although many solar PV systems consist of panels that can be mounted on a roof, other types are also available. These include solar slates and tiles, which can be used in the same way as conventional roof tiles. This can cost around double the amount of an equivalent solar PV system, and they are not currently as cost effective. Nevertheless, they are useful when aesthetics or planning is an issue.

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Use our solar calculator to work out how much you could earn with the Feed-in Tariff

Our solar calculator will provide you with an unbiased representation of the potential payback you could earn from Solar PV.

The Government's Feed-in Tariff scheme provides you with payment for the energy you generate whether you use it or not.

Plus... the energy you don't use will be sold back to the grid earning you even more.

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