Here comes the sun
Despite cuts to the government’s energy subsidy, you can still benefit from going solar. Here’s the lowdown on generating your own electricity and the latest on just how much the world loves renewables.
Less bills, more energy
Solar panels generate electricity, can help reduce your energy bills and create a tax-free, index linked income of 4.11p/kWh*. This money is not only guaranteed for 20 years through the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) but also paid whether or not you use the electricity. It doesn’t stop there – an Export Tariff also pays for every kWh you don’t use but return to the grid, at a rate of 4.91p/kWh. These amounts are measured by metering systems installed in your home and are convenient, reliable and easy to read.
*England, Scotland and Wales
The road to battery power
Crossover technology from new developments in electric car batteries means you can now store the energy you generate to use when you need it most, which for most people is typically in the evenings and at weekends. These reliable lithium batteries are now much more affordable than in the past, have been re-designed for a more stylish look and blend unobtrusively into most homes.
No more held to ransom
Electricity price rises are again predicted for the big six energy suppliers. Energy regulator Ofgem has also urged suppliers to return money taken from customers who overpaid before switching. Self-consumption removes a lot of this pressure including all the second-guessing, time and money spent finding the best deal in a constantly changing market.
EDF’s nuclear build programme at Hinkley C promises much but Greenpeace is concerned about the cost of nuclear power in the future, when “renewable energy will be much cheaper, yet British consumers will still be forced to pay over the odds for nuclear power. It’ll be like being locked into an expensive fixed-rate mortgage as interest rates plummet.”
The cost of solar panels has dropped significantly recently making the idea of generating your own electricity much more affordable and attractive. An average installation starts from around £6K, the same cost as a new kitchen or bathroom.
Solar panels are an easy step towards significantly reducing your carbon footprint and the global drive for cleaner energy.
The future looks bright
Over 800,000 UK homes now have solar panels according to the Solar Trade Association.
- 2015 saw the highest ever number of renewable power installations featuring 57GW of solar PV in the world. (Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance)
- Clean energy investment surged in China, Africa, the US, Latin America and India during 2015, driving the world total to $328.9bn, the best it’s ever been. (Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance)
- In 2016, half the UK’s generated electricity came from non-fossil fuel sources. (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Q3 2016)
I have to live somewhere sunny
Solar panels use daylight not sunlight, so whether you live north or south it’s all about getting around six hours a day of light to make the system work.
I need planning permission
Only very rarely or if the property is listed.
I can’t switch energy supplier
Yes you can – there is no problem about switching to find the best deal for the energy you buy. However, when it comes to the Feed In Tariff, this is fixed by Ofgem so there’s no point shopping around. But in our experience, Ecotricity in Gloucester provides good customer service – and they don’t pay us for the recommendation!
Solar panels are high maintenance
They’re not. Properly installed and with the correct guarantees they should last many years. The inverter to convert the electricity may need changing but even then over a decade’s use is standard. Plus you can include the panels on your building insurance for extra protection.
Savings aren’t so good
The Energy Saving Trust estimates you will still save around £300 a year, and that figure increases with inflation. They say the average return on investment takes around twenty years, depending where you live. In the meanwhile, your energy bills are reduced, you’re generating an income and helping to save the planet.
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