Solar panels (PV)

Generate cheap, green electricity from sunlight

Solar panel electricity systems, also known as solar photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells. These cells don't need direct sunlight to work – they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.


  • Cut your electricity bills: sunlight is free, so once you've paid for the initial installation your electricity costs will be reduced.
  • Get paid for the electricity you generate: the government’s Feed-In Tariffs pay you for the electricity you generate, even if you use it.
  • Sell electricity back to the grid: if your system is producing more electricity than you need, or when you can't use it, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.
  • Cut your carbon footprint: solar electricity is green, renewables energy and doesn't release any harmful carbon dioxide] or other pollutants. A typical home solar PV system could save over a tonne of carbon dioxide per year – that's more than 30 tonnes over its lifetime.

How do solar panels (PV) cells work?


PV cells are made from layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers. The stronger the sunshine, the more electricity is produced.  Groups of cells are mounted together in panels or modules that can be mounted on your roof.

The power of a PV cell is measured in kilowatts peak (kWp). That's the rate at which it generates energy at peak performance in full direct sunlight during the summer. PV cells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most PV systems are made up of panels that fit on top of an existing roof, but you can also fit solar tiles.

Solar tiles and slates

Solar tiles are designed to be used in place of ordinary roof tiles. A system made up of solar tiles will typically cost around twice as much as an equivalent panel system, although you will save the money you would have spent on roof tiles or slates. Solar tile systems are not normally as cost-effective as panel systems, and are usually only considered where panels are not considered appropriate for aesthetic or planning reasons.

Costs, savings and maintenance

Costs

An average domestic system size is around 3kWp. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) undertook an assessment of solar PV system costs in May 2012 and based on the results of this a 3kWp system will cost around £7,700 (including VAT at 5%).


Read the full DECC assessment of solar PV systems at the DECC website.


Costs have fallen significantly over the last year and as costs vary between installers and products, we recommend consumers get quotes from at least 

three installers.        


Other factors that affect PV installation costs are:

  • The more electricity the system can generate, the more it costs but the more it could save.
  • Larger systems are usually more cost-effective than smaller systems (up to 4kWp).
  • PV panels are all around the same price per kWp, but PV tiles cost much more than a typical system made up of panels.
  • Panels built into a roof are more expensive than those that sit on top.

there are numerous benefits to be had by the installation of a Green Planet Solar Energy solar PV system. Not only do you help create a greener world, but you also benefit financially thanks to the Government’s Feed In Tariff (FIT) Scheme which is a major component of the UK’s low-carbon strategy

.Designed to encourage householders and small businesses to invest in small scale energy generation, the scheme offers payment for every unit of energy generated at a fixed rate, guaranteed for 25 years, and index-linked.

Despite the recent changes to the feed-in-tariff, a solar PV installation through Green Planet is still an excellent long-term investment, with an average return of 10%.

This we can achieve through our unique business model. We source the panels direct from the manufacturer, and we are also committed to only using high yield panels that give you maximum efficiency. We also strive to keep our costs and our prices low, ensuring that you get the best possible return on the money you invest.

Generating your own electricity also liberates you from the uncertainty of rising fuel bills. The installation of a solar PV system will significantly reduce your energy bills, and not only that, it could also significantly add to the value of your property.

The benefits of course go way beyond that of financial reward. Climate change is an urgent issue and there is a pressing need for action. In the UK, over 25% the greenhouse gases we generate are the direct result of the energy we use to heat and light our homes. Contact Green Planet Solar Energy today, and we can help you create a safer world for future generations.

 

1. Using Solar PV as an Investment:

Invest in a solar PV system and you will be paid for EVERY unit of energy you produce (whether or not it is used). The current Feed in Tariff rate of 21.0p per kWh is guaranteed for 25 years and index linked (RPI). All payments are tax free. Currently you can get a substantially better rate of return by investing your savings into a Solar PV system than putting it in a bank account or an ISA.

2. Using Solar PV to Lower Your Energy Bills:

It is estimated that a medium household will use approximately 3300kW of electricity every year. A typical 2.2kWp domestic Solar PV System can provide more than half of this requirement; and naturally, the more you generate yourself, the less you pay in energy bills.

3. Using Solar PV to Protect Against Future Electricity Price Increases:

Electricity prices have risen sharply in recent years, and so too has demand. The residential sector is largely responsible for this increase. Solar PV systems are designed to wholly or at least partly meet the demands of the average household. This can substantially reduce your dependency on grid supplied electric and reduces your exposure to fluctuation energy prices.

4. Using Solar PV to Increase the Value of Your Home:

There are no published figures to show the impact on the price of a property from the installation of a solar PV system. However, it naturally follows that by putting in place a system that not only reduces energy bills, but which also generates a financial return courtesy of the Feed in Tarrif cash-back scheme; you will make your property more attractive to potential buyers and therefore add notably to the value of your property.

5. Using Solar PV for environmental reasons:

An average 1.8kWp Solar PV system can reduce your household carbon emissions by over 900kgCO2/yr. An operating solar PV system does not emit any harmful emissions

  

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Savings

A 3kWp system can generate over 2,500 kilowatt hours of electricity a year - that's around three quarters of a typical household's electricity needs - and will save over a tonne of carbon dioxide every year.

If your system is eligible for the Feed-In Tariff scheme it could generate savings and income of around £540 per year (based on a 3kWp solar PV system eligible for a generation tariff of 16p/kWh) – you will get paid for both the electricity you generate and use, and what you don't use and export to the grid. But check recent changes to the tariffs, which have reduced the amount you can get back. If you know your system size, you can get a tailored estimate for your system using our Solar Energy Calculator.

Please note that the Feed-in Tariff scheme is not available in Northern Ireland. 



Maintenance

Solar PV needs little maintenance – you'll just need to keep the panels relatively clean and make sure trees don't begin to overshadow them. In the UK panels that are tilted at 15° or more have the additional benefit of being cleaned by rainfall to ensure optimal performance. Debris is more likely to accumulate if you have ground mounted panels.

If dust, debris, snow or bird droppings are a problem they should be removed with warm water (and perhaps some dish washing liquid or the like – your installer can advise) and a brush or a high pressure hose (or telescopic cleaning pole) if the panels are difficult to reach. Always be careful if you are working above the ground or near the top of a ladder. Alternatively, there are a number of specialist window cleaning companies who will clean solar PV panels for you at a cost (of around £30 based on our research in March 2012) depending on the size of your array and location. Many of these companies use a water fed pole system which does away with the need for a ladder.

Once fitted, your installer should leave written details of any maintenance checks that you should carry out from time to time to ensure everything is working properly. This should include details of the main invertor fault signals and key trouble-shooting guidance. Ideally your installer should demonstrate this to you at the point of handover. Keeping a close eye on your system and the amount of electricity it’s generating (alongside the weather conditions) will familiarize you with what to expect and alert you to when something might be wrong. 

The panels should last 25 years or more, but the invertor is likely to need replacing some time during this period, at a current cost of around £1,000. Consult with your installer for exact maintenance requirements before you commit to installing a solar PV system.  

Voltage Optimisation is a system that works in small business and in your homes. The system is built and designed to  reduce the incoming voltage that is supplied to houses or businesses.  The system produces a reduced amount of energy that is consumed, which leads to reduction on electricity bills and also reduces wear on appliances.

Voltage optimisation is an important technology in the UK, as most of the electrical goods and appliances that are in the UK, are rated at 220V. However, on average, the voltage that is supplied by the national grid is 242v. So, in most instances, houses and business are supplied with an unwanted amount of electricity. 

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