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What is Solar PV ?
Solar PV systems work by converting light into electrical power. This is achieved using a thin layer of semi-conducting material, most commonly silicon, enclosed in a glass or plastic casing. These can range in size with small versions used on watches and calculators to a system of hundreds of square metres of linked up to make an array to power large buildings.
When exposed to sunlight the semi-conducting material causes electrons in the materials’ atoms to be knocked loose. The electrons that are knocked loose then flow through the material to produce an electric current known as a direct current (DC).
The direct current is carried through wiring to an inverter which converts the current to alternating current (AC) so it can be connected to your property’s main electricity distribution board which either used within the home or fed back into the national grid.
WHY IT'S AN EASY CHOICE?
Figures and Calculations
Most residential solar systems are between 1kW and 4kW. These still vary in size depending on the brand and installation method, but the following includes average rates per system. Learn more about Domestic Solar PV
|System Size||Estimated Cost||Estimated Output||Co2 Saved||Estimated 1st Year Return||Estimated Profit over 20 Years||Roof Space Required|
|1kW||£2,500 - £3,200||850 kWh||10 Tons||£130||£100||8m2|
|2kW||£3,200 - £4,800||1,700 kWh||20 Tons||£222||£562||14m2|
|3kW||£4,000 - 7,000||2,550 kWh||30 Tons||£316||£1,320||21m2|
|4kW||£6,000 - £8,000||3,400 kWh||40 Tons||£404||£2,080||28m2|
Commercial solar panels are typically larger, provide more power, and require more space. However, they also generate more returns. Again, costs can vary a great deal, but the following includes a look at average prices in the sector. Learn more about Commercial Solar PV.
|System Size||Cost||CO2 Saved||1st Year Return||Time to Pay Off||Roof Space Required|
|10kW||£16,000 - £20,000||100 Tons||£1,060||16 - 18 Years||64m2+|
|25kW||£30,000 - £40,000||250 Tons||£1,616||18 - 21 Years||160m2|
|50kW||£60,000 - £70,000||500 Tons||£2,323||17 - 21 Years||320m2|
|100kW+||£200,000+||1000+ Tons||£5,050+||16 - 21 Years||640m2|
These rates and prices are all based on the current cost of solar panels, as well as current FIT rates as of June 2016
Table below shows an average time which takes to install a 3kW Solar PV system. System size and other factors will vary the time it takes to install a system.
|Survey to provide firm quote||1-2 hours|
|Inspection of electrics and taking final measurements||1-3 hours|
|Scaffolding erected to gain safe access to the roof||4-5 hours|
|Installing the panels||4-5 hours|
|Installation of electronics||3 - 6 hours|
|Tidying up and removal of scaffolding||3 hours|
|Total||16 - 24 hours|
HOW EASY IS IT TO GET SOLAR
Feed In Tariff
Feed-in tariffs were introduced by the government back in April 2010, with the aim of increasing the amount of Solar PV and renewable energy sources that were being put into use.
What these mean is that anyone who installs a Solar PV now will have fixed rates of electricity for the next 25 years, and highly reduced energy bills as lots of the power produced will be self-provided. Furthermore, any unused power produced that goes back to the National Grid is paid for by them. All in all, as well as reducing your carbon footprint and helping the environment, investing in Solar PV does actually turn out to be a profitable venture.
These tariffs are paid through your electricity supplier, and either are given to you as a direct payment into your bank account or a credit line to/for your energy bills (dependent upon utility company). While it would seem the suppliers are losing out on this, the way their incomings/outgoings ratio stays the same is they will make the money back off the bills of regular bill payers, who’s costs will continue to go up over time.
The rates given for different units of electricity vary from 30.7 pence per kWh for stand alone and 100kWp – 5mWp systems to 43.3p per pWh for retrofit models less than 4kWp in size. Export meters can be installed in the home with your PV panel, but in most cases these are not financially worthwhile to invest in.
The UK is not the only country to introduce these FIT’s, and the likes of Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal have all introduced this, as well as states in the USA and Canada. Germany has become an excellent success story for Solar PV as well, with massive solar farms in Lieberose and Strasskirchen. The country now has over 8,877MW of solar capacity thanks to the FITs.
Even though FIT’s was something that Labour began bringing in, the coalition has stuck with them, with a main reason being the crisis in the Middle East, and thus oil as an energy source can’t be relied upon due to a lack of sustainability and possibly availability. While the government are reviewing the FIT system, it’s highly unlikely anything negative will happen to them, as they are a great way of making sure the UK reaches renewable energy targets.
Furthermore, renewable energy is something that could be beneficial in another way; that it creates jobs and will be a consistent employment method as the energy source isn’t going away. While only 10,000 are employed in jobs in this sector in the UK at the minute, in Germany, 250,000 jobs are provided by renewable energy, and the taxes and profits made for it also boost the financial state of the country. While fossil fuels are depleting, Solar PV is a great way to become self sufficient with energy, and not have to worry about shortages and unavailability.
It seems that these days, pretty much anything adds to your carbon footprint, although the installation of solar panels is a way of lessening your carbon impact on the world.
The definition of your carbon footprint is that it’s the amount of carbon dioxide you cause through your everyday activities and the appliances in your home. In the UK, the average footprint per person is 9.8 tonnes, which is comparatively huge compared to the worldwide average of 4 tonnes. To combat climate change, the worldwide average needs to reduce by 2 tonnes. There are numerous ways of improving your carbon footprint, including not taking the car, adopting a vegan diet and taking more consideration as to the appliances you use at home. By 2020, the government has committed to reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions by between 26-32%. In addition, they are wanting to change the situation so the UK is less reliant on North Sea energy and can be more self sufficient.
Large initiatives to make sure the public are informed about energy efficiency are currently being taken by the government, and by now, most will have the correct insulation in their home, which can knock 40% off the carbon emissions of a house. Low energy lights bulbs are also a major contributor to the decrease of carbon emissions. In concurrency with this, the government is looking to implement renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power to greater effect, and micro generation (the use of lots of smaller generators) in the National Grid.
In order to lower the cost of the installation of renewable energies, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has made the Low Carbon Buildings Program. This provides a variety of different people with the means to reduce their Carbon footprint, and enables people to apply for grants.
U Energy are experts in the field of reducing your carbon footprint through the implementation of solar energy, and our advisers are on hand at all times to discuss options for your more sustainable, cheaper and greener future.
Designing Your System
When U Energy design systems we use the leading tools and techniques to ensure that your system is as efficient as possible. 3D and photographic mock ups, along with calculations using advanced software such as PV Sol and SMA Sunny Design, mean that we can precisely configure the system for your roof.
The video below shows a 3D model of a home with solar panels on the roof. This shows the customer the fit and appearance of what may be considered a very large and complicated system:
Types of Systems
There are a multitude of PV systems, and to help you decide which is suitable for you, here is a breakdown of the different options that are available. Also, the downsides of each system are listed.
On Roof Solar PV Systems
Good points regarding these include the fact they are welcoming on the eyes and it is very rare that they require planning permission to be installed. These are the most productive Solar PV units for buildings and are naturally ventilated. In this way, they provide good value for money and another plus is that they can retrofit onto any roof. However, in conservation areas it can be difficult to attain the required planning permission, and these do look like an add-on to the roof as opposed to a natural part of the scenery.
In Roof Solar PV Systems
While not invisible, they are fairly aesthetically pleasing, and provide a cost effective way of Solar paneling your roof. While it’s more costly than other PV systems, they lie completely flush with the roof and are less noticeable than their ‘on roof’ counterparts.
PV Tile Systems
In the majority of areas, no planning permission is required for the installation of these, they are simple to install and the visual impact compared to other PV systems is lessened. However, these are relatively expensive and in conservation areas, planning permission is still required. These require a full reroof, and they are slightly more inefficient than the ‘on roof’ systems.
Flat-roof Mounted Solar PV Systems
These can be aligned and adjusted to the optimum orientation and tilt, and do not require reroofing. Their efficiency is on a par with the ‘On Roof’ systems, and they are naturally ventilated. In every case, these require planning permission though, and due to the amount of time they take there is a knock on effect on price. These also put extra weight on the building due to the frame and ballast and must be carefully structured so the panels don’t shade each other.
Ground Mounted Solar PV Systems
These can be installed in the perfect way for light absorption, and are not limited by the size of your roof, meaning a larger Solar PV unit is possible. However, the case remains that planning permission is required for these, and electrical trenching is required also.
The Solar PV Panels work based on the amount of light they receive from the Sun, and thus, shading and/or to a lesser extent cloud cover can result in the generation of less power.
If only one of the panels is shaded, the performance of all of them is liable to dropping. This is because all of the panels are connected in series, and a bottleneck is created, because of which the bypass diodes drop the power of the whole unit, as to protect the shaded cells from damage.
Moderate shading is likely to reduce the panel’s capabilities by about 20%, although this can be as much as 40% if the shading is vast. With this in mind, sometimes in areas prone to shading, a smaller unit that doesn’t get covered by shade can produce more than a bigger unit which gets slightly darkened. Our surveyors will talk over the best option for you upon your free site survey and installation of your panels.