We have been encouraged recently by some more Photovoltaic (PV) panels being installed in our Village. Initially we thought it less likely due to the general financial situation and the Government’s reduced tax-free Feed-in-Tariff. However, two other things have changed: the cost of PV panels has come down significantly (partly due to Chinese competition) and fuel prices have gone up! The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts 7% energy price rises for families this winter, and a 3% rise next year. Ofgem also predicts continued energy price rises.
Initial PV installation outlay varies according to capacity required, location and installation conditions, however prices usually range around £6500 to £8000 for a 4KW system. As a rough guide, a typical return might be around 10-14% tax-free, even in the unlikely case that electricity prices remain stable, and more if they rise as predicted. This corresponds to a payback time of around 7-10 years, better than many current investments.
The ideal roof direction for PV panels faces south. However, the energy available decreases surprisingly slowly if a full south orientation cannot be achieved. An east or west facing installation should be capable of generating 85% of what is predicted for a south facing roof. If you don’t have a suitable roof, PV panels can be mounted on another structure such as a garden shed, or in the garden.
Planning permission is not required for roof mounted installations unless the building is listed or it has a flat roof. Other types of installations may require planning permission. Well installed PV systems normally require little maintenance, though the inverter for converting DC to AC may need replacing within the 20 years during which the owner receives tax-free payments under the FiT scheme. So it is still a very good time to save money & electricity with a PV installation.
Another encouraging Government scheme is the Green Deal, which applies not only to PV, but gives financial help with Thermal hot water panels & other energy saving improvements: get details via: www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures. The BcS Environment Group can suggest suitable installers from whom you can get quotations that show estimated costs & returns. For more information please contact David Evans-Roberts (836839) or Peter Varley (835554).
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