Photovoltaic panels are now quite a common site on the UK’s rooftops.
Solar Photovoltaics (PV) panels captures energy from the sun and convert it into electricity so if the roofline on your home faces south and does not have any large trees or houses obstructing it , they could be a very efficient way of you generating free, clean electricity.
Your array (amount) of panels will be determined by the size of your roof and PV panels are always angled towards the sun as this ensures the maximum efficiency. PV panels can even be installed on a flat roof although a pitch of 30 - 40 degrees is the ideal.
A general rule is that 40% of all your electricity needs can be met by an average Solar photovoltaics system. Any excess energy you produce can be sold back to the national grid via the ‘feed in tarrif’ system. A 4kWp system can generate around 3,700 kilowatt hours a year with a combined savings and income of around £785 a year.
Installation costs have reduced in recent years but a typical installed solar PV system (3.5-4kWp) will still cost in the region of £7,000 (inc VAT) so a large initial investment is required for this technology.
- PV panels provide clean, green energy. During electricity generation there is no harmful greenhouse gas emissions thus solar PV is environmentally friendly.
- Solar energy can harnessed almost anywhere there is sunlight.
- Operating and maintenance costs for PV panels are considered to be much lower than other renewable energy systems.
- PV panels have no mechanically moving parts, except in cases of –sun-tracking mechanical bases so they suffer from far less breakages and require less maintenance than other renewable energy systems (e.g. wind turbines).
- Unlike wind turbines PV panels are totally silent, producing no noise at all.
- PV panels are easy to install on rooftops or on the ground without any disruption to householders. A simple installation is usually completed within two days.
- This technology is still relatively expensive so you will need to work out the payback period versus initial cost.
- Solar energy is only produced when the light levels are sufficient so it is less efficient on a cloudy or rainy weather.
- In case of ground mounted PV panel installations, they require a relatively large areas of land to site them on.
- Solar panels efficiency levels are relatively low (between 14%-25%) compared to the efficiency levels of other renewable energy systems.
- Can be fragile so can get damaged relatively easily.
You can get grants for Photovoltaics, below are the schemes this is available with.
* According to data sourced from the Energy Saving Trust website.