Solar energy is the world's most abundant natural resource. Nowadays, more and more people are switching to solar power not only because it is a clean energy source, but also because of its increasing ability to compete with conventional energy sources. Owing to continued technological innovation, solar energy is becoming less expensive and more efficient.
- It is environmentally friendly. Solar energy releases no harmful substances or noise into the atmosphere. It helps you reduce your household's’ carbon footprint.
- It is free. Electricity from a solar energy system is totally FREE being generated from daylight. This will help you reduce your bills.
- It works everywhere, even when it is cloudy. Although a solar panel’s efficiency increases proportionally to the amount of sun they receive, they can work everywhere, also in cloudy weather.
- There is no need for planning permission. Solar panels are considered "permitted development", therefore you don't need to obtain a planning permission before installing them with the exception of listed buildings or in conservation areas where you will need to make a formal planning application.
- Peak production matches peak consumption times. Energy consumption from Solar peaks in the hours of daylight, when solar energy production is at its highest.
- You get paid for the electricity you generate. The Governments generation tariff is paid on the kWh generated by your electricity provider. The rate is determined by the government at the time of installation.
- You get paid for the electricity you don’t use. Another advantage of the feed-in tariff is that it is deemed that you will export 50% of the electricity generated to which a further export tariff is paid, whether you use the electricity or not.
- You can store your energy. You can store the electricity generated for use later and still claim the 50% export tariff.
- Solar energy is a renewable, sustainable resource. Oil, on the other hand, is not renewable or sustainable. Once it is gone, it is gone.
- High Reliability & Low Maintenance. Solar PV systems have no moving parts and require minimal maintenance. The primary maintenance task is just keeping the panels clean! The solar PV modules are extremely reliable and they have warranties of 25 years and should keep working well beyond that as long as the sun is shining!
- Make your property more attractive to potential buyers and add value.
- Solar cells are totally silent. They can extract energy from the sun without making any noise.
- Marketing Your Green Initiatives. By showing your customers you care about the environment and are willing to invest in our future you will attract more business. Also, involving your own employees in a solar energy efficiency project can bring the side benefits of making people more cost conscious and saving on operating expenses.
Solar PV. Solar Photovoltaics, or short Solar PV, is a technology that converts light energy (photons) directly into electricity through the photovoltaic effect, using solar panels.
Solar panels. Solar panels, or modules, are a series of interconnected silicon cells joined together to form a circuit. In greater numbers the amount of power produced by these interconnected cells is increased and used as an electricity production system.
Lifespan of solar panels. Solar panels installed today will produce solar energy for around 30 to 40 years, without the need of replacing them. The panels are warranted for 25 years and will still generate a minimum of 80% of their original output.
Price of solar panels. Currently, the price of a PV cell is 99% lower than it was in 1976. Also, the UK government is offering incentives for the installation of panels. Based on current average electricity costs, and assuming modest inflation of energy prices, the payback period should be between 7 and 10 years.
Required roof space. A typical domestic roof can accommodate around 3 to 4kW of solar panels. In the UK they will generate around 70% to 100% of the average annual amount of electricity used in the house.
What Is the Feed-in Tariff?
The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) was introduced in 2010 by the UK government in order to encourage the uptake of renewable energy sources. FiT payments are guaranteed by the government for a period of 20 years. The payments you receive are tax free and indexed, meaning that they will increase annually according to inflation. Payments remain tax free as long as you continue to reside in the property where your solar system is installed. Taxes apply if you rent the property out. The FiT is based on the day that the system is installed, these tariffs are reviewed every 3 months, please check the Ofgem website for current rates here. Savings will vary in different households depending on the usage of electricity, the size of the solar system, the orientation of the roof and the inclination of the roof.
Am I Eligible for the Feed-In Tariff?
You need to meet some basic requirements in order to qualify for the FiT and receive payments:
- Both your installer and the solar panels have to be accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).
- Your system size must be under 4kW in order to receive the maximum tariff.
- You have to ensure that your energy supplier offers FiT payments.
From 1st of April 2012 you are also required to acquire an energy performance certificate (EPC). The EPC shows the energy efficiency of your home. You need a grade of D or above to receive the full payment from the FiT. If the grade of your home is lower than D, you need to make some improvements to the energy efficiency of your house in order to receive the standard rate payments. If you do not make the necessary improvements required to get a D grade, you will still receive payments, but at lower rate.
How to Register for the Feed-In Tariff
- Ask your installer to register you in the MCS database and then send you a completed MCS certificate.
- Inform your electricity supplier that you wish to register to claim the FiT and send them a completed application form, your MSC certificate and EPC certificate showing that your home is D grade or above.
- The electricity supplier will then cross check the information you have sent and inform you when you have to provide meter readings and when the first payments will be made. The FiT payments are made every 3 months directly into your bank account.
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