Solar Thermal in the UK

solar thermalYou can generate electricity from the sun, but you can also harness solar energy to heat your home. Solar thermal systems are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, and for good reason. The price of gas is rising, but what if you could produce your own hot water from a renewable, clean source? Well, this is the very essence of solar thermal technology.

After the initial outlay for a solar thermal system, you will notice an immediate reduction in your energy bills. This is achieved by providing most of your hot water in the summer, although it will be less in the colder months.

Nevertheless, you could still save up to £60.00 if replacing gas heating and around £85.00 when replacing electric immersion heating. Some people have started to fit systems with larger panels in order to contribute towards the heating of their home, as well as providing hot water.


Renewable Heat Premium Payment for Solar Thermal

Government Assistance is available to help you meet the initial outlay of installing your solar thermal system. The Renewable Heat Premium Payment is a one off grant that has been set up as an incentive for people to install solar thermal systems. If you are eligible, you will receive a voucher towards your installation costs.

As from May 30th, you will need to undertake a Green Deal Assessment in order to claim your voucher. So, how much can you save on a solar thermal system with the Renewable Heat Premium Payment? Well, at the moment you can expect to save £600 on your solar thermal installation under this scheme.

In order to qualify, you must meet certain criteria and undertake a Green Deal Assessment. This includes having your solar thermal system fitted by an MCS certified installer.

It’s worth noting that most people can potentially benefit from the Renewable Heat Premium Payment, as this isn’t only available to people on low incomes or in receipt of benefits.


How solar thermal works

The panels used for solar thermal are different to photovoltaic cells. They are also mounted onto roofs, but they known as “collectors” in the trade. As the name suggests, water collects inside the solar thermal panels and is heated by sunlight. These collectors are black in colour and designed to absorb the maximum amount of heat from the sunlight.

The beauty of this technology is that the heated water is then stored in an insulated hot water cylinder. An immersion heater or boiler can still be used for back up, or when you need your water to be a little hotter.

There are two types of solar thermal panels:

  • Flat plate collectors, which are integrated into your roof or fixed onto the roof tiles
  • Evacuated tubes, which are fitted onto your roof like solar PV panels

Some people have started to fit larger panels to assist with heating their homes. Although this method doesn’t provide much in the way of extra heating at the moment, the technology is still being developed. So, this is worth bearing in mind.

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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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