"Are Solar panels worth it in the UK?" is a question we need to ask ourselves in the era of the Tesla energy plan and electric cars.
People are looking for environmentally friendlier ways of living their lives.
Solar panels allow British residents to benefit from cleaner and cheaper electricity.
This guide will help you through the benefits of switching to solar power.
It is worth using solar power for generating electricity anywhere in the UK.
Although the use of solar panels is applicable in every region of the UK, how profitable they can be varies from region to region.
The best regions are South Wales and Southeast England, where it takes nine years to break even.
The worst region would be northern Scotland, where it takes 12 years to break even.
You can summarise the benefits as follows:
With solar energy, you are protecting the environment by using the sun's energy as a renewable source of electricity.
You have access to sunlight anywhere in the world, and it is available all the time and will never run out.
As long as there is sun, there will be sunlight, and according to scientists, the sun will continue to shine for five billion years.
Your energy costs and bills should drop as you rely on nature rather than going back to the grid or approaching an energy company for more electricity.
How much you save on your energy bills depends on how much sunlight is available and your heat and electricity usage.
Not only will you save the environment by using free solar power, but you can export surplus electricity via the SEG if your solar panel system is connected to the National Grid.
You also are reducing carbon emissions by not using electricity generated by fossil fuels.
The solar energy you gather can also be used for other methods, mainly: PV or heat (solar thermal).
Solar electricity can provide energy for areas without access to the National Grid or electricity suppliers, can create distilled water for areas with little clean water, and can even power satellites.
Solar panels don't require much maintenance, only needing to be cleaned a few times a year.
SIDE NOTE: Some cleaning services can clean your solar panels for only £25-35.
Most solar panel manufacturers offer a 20-25 years warranty.
Solar panels have no moving parts; thus, there is no wear and tear. Only the inverter needs to be changed every 5-10 years.
The solar panels also have cables that need to be maintained.
Thus, you need very little money for maintenance and repair work once you have covered the cost of the panels.
The technology for solar power is constantly evolving and improving.
Eventually, through quantum physics and nanotechnology, the energy outputs of solar panels are expected to double or even triple over time.
You can summarise the drawbacks of solar panels as follows:
The initial cost of installing solar panels can be high.
On average, the cost of solar panels is around £5,000-£10,000, with each panel costing around £350 each.
The size and occupancy of your house can act as factors when considering your installation costs.
Furthermore, the more residents and amenities within the house, the more solar power is expended; thus, you may need to pay at least £5,000 for installation.
Although you can still harvest solar energy while it's raining or it’s cloudy, the efficiency of your solar panels will drop under such conditions.
Your panels always remain dependent on sunlight for their energy production.
This dependence also means your solar panels are useless at night.
However, heat pump water heaters, thermodynamic panels, and solar thermal panels can be used during the night or the winter season.
Another issue with solar energy is that the electricity produced must either be used immediately or stored in a solar battery.
You can use a solar battery in off-the-National Grid systems, charging it during the day, and using it at night, but this process can push up your energy bills.
It's smarter to use your solar battery's energy during the day and electricity from the grid at night.
SIDE NOTE: You tend to use more energy during the day.
Not only do you need to consider the initial installation costs, but you also have to consider how much space your solar panels take up after installation.
Solar PV panels would require much MORE SPACE than the typical panel, and many roofs would not have such a large holding capacity.
An alternative to consider is to install your panels across your back yard, but you would still need access to sunlight.
Although not as much as other energy sources, solar energy can still produce pollution and a carbon footprint.
The transportation and installation of solar systems can produce greenhouse gases and carbon emissions.
The manufacturing process for solar PV systems uses some toxic and hazardous materials.
However, any pollution used in making the panels is less than that caused by producing other alternative energy sources.
One of the biggest advantages of solar panels is how much money you can save through the electricity being generated for free.
Free solar energy can help you save money in two ways:
The advantage of selling back solar energy is that they aren't dependent on tariffs, allowing you to save money on your electricity bills.
Your solar panels can save you around £100 to £270 in London annually or in cities like Birmingham or Manchester around £90 to £230 annually.
The money you can save depends on how much electricity you have spent on your solar panel system and when you spent it.
You save more money when you use your appliances during the day, as using energy without the sun means you need to draw power from the National Grid.
Earlier, the British government could reward you with the FIT programme as power companies would pay you generation and export tariffs at government fixed rates.
You would earn £4 for every kilowatt-hour(kWh) for what energy was produced and £5.38 per kWh for excess energy.
UK companies even offered a free solar panel scheme; they would install PV panels on your roof, generating solar power for free.
In return, these companies would collect the FIT payments to make a profit., But this system ended in around 2019 with no more new applications accepted.
The SEG, the new solar PV system scheme, doesn't regulate rates as it lets energy companies decide their own rates.
It is planned that there will be an offer of tariffs for exported energy, but not for generation.
The average break-even period is 10.4 years, with the best SEG.
According to the government, the initial cost of solar panels has decreased by 88% since 2010, while household energy bills are rising.
You would have to pay 5.5p per kWh for all the unused energy.
Because the warranty on solar panels is around 25 years, you would be left with 15 years of saving money from your panels as solar arrays last beyond 25 years.
In percentage terms, the rate of return is the same regardless of your house, but a bigger panel system overlay would lead to higher profits.
Thus, you would get £4,600 for a 1-2 bedroom house producing 1,800 kWh while you would get £10,700 for a four bedroom array system producing 4,300 kWh.
The system works as follows:
The solar panel system for the average payback or break-even point in the UK can vary due to certain factors:
The more energy your solar panels generate, the more you can earn from the SEG, as this applies to all renewable energy up to 5MW.
With SEG payments, your solar panels will earn more due to not relying on the National Grid.
Solar panel savings can amount to around £100 to £270 for a typical household in London, with the average system cost of solar panels being around £6,000.
Without SEG, you will break even with your solar panels in around 22-60 years.
With SEG payments, the solar panel payback time is significantly shorter, needing only 16-22 years to break even.
The average solar panel system would still cost around £6,000 while it would earn £100 in annual SEG payments.
Remember, your break-even point with SEG can be as early as 16 years with 4-6p/kWh for the SEG; the more extensive your stem, the shorter the payback time.
The number of hours every year when the sun is present can vary between regions in the UK.
The presence of sunlight impacts electricity generation. For example, northern Scotland only receives1,080 hours of sunlight compared to East Anglia's 1,570 hours: 45% more hours.
Solar battery storage can be a more profitable use of your solar production compared to SEG payments.
A battery can help you use 30% of your solar production, saving an extra £226 per year from your electricity costs.
However, solar batteries are priced at an expensive £4,500 each and can delay your break-even point by another 20 years, on average.
This battery, however, makes you more energy independent from an energy provider while it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 18 tonnes.
The more energy your household uses, the more your solar production is used, but you will save more money by not being dependent on your local grid.
However, this proposition is only feasible with solar batteries. Also, only using grid electricity at night would mean you’d save less money due to your solar panels and energy bills
You can also further maximise your electricity savings with smart controls on, for example, your washing machine. In this way, you can control which appliances are charged by your solar panels.
Buying from the National Grid at its current state would be very expensive, and you would save more money with free solar production.
Your new electricity bill could amount to around £464, decreasing by 53% from £986.
The government launched the SEG on January 1, 2020. The programme requires all the energy suppliers in the UK to pay their households for the renewable energy they send to the grid.
Competition remains healthy as small energy providers are getting involved, with several offering 5.5p for every kWh of renewable power exported to the grid.
Unfortunately, the FIT, ended on March 31 of 2019. unless you had your initial outlay installed before the closing date.
The tariff is bound to cover you until your 20-year contract expires.
The reason the FIT was closed was never officially revealed, but the most common explanation was that the government wanted to redirect the money to large-scale environmental projects.
Although the tariff has ended, solar panels are now more affordable and accessible than before.
As people become more concerned with environmental issues, investing in solar energy can help you to sell your home for increased value, if you wish.
Having a renewable energy source through installing solar panels can make your house more attractive to potential buyers while saving you money.
However, the home's resale value won't match your investment size as solar panel installations, on average, are 4.1% of the value, according to a study by Zillow.
Rule of thumb: you can't expect a PV solar panel of around £5,000 to increase your house asking price by the same amount, but it would raise it.
A good quality panel system can add more value to your home.
It is worth it for British people to invest in solar panels.
The panels are environmentally friendly.
They can help you make money from selling surplus electricity.
There are grants available that will reduce your electricity bills.
Initially, there would be a significant cost, and a balancing act is still required regarding power use, but this can be managed with some foresight.
Buy solar panels now! You stand to gain more from this investment than without it.
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