Is it sunny enough for solar power to be generated in the UK?
People often ask us whether solar panels are worth having installed in the UK, due to the perceived lack of sunshine. The simple answer is yes, there is more than enough energy generated by the sun to make solar panels a worthwhile investment to save on your future energy bills.
Even though the UK has a reputation for being cloudy and grey compared to most European countries, solar panels still work, even if it is not particularly sunny.
Solar PVs use light to produce energy, not heat, so the amount of daylight is important and not the temperature. They do produce more power on sunny days because there is more light produced but they still work well on overcast days too.
In the summer months, the UK gets almost 17 hours of daylight per day, while even in December it gets a minimum of 8 hours daylight (figures based on London), so there is plenty of daylight to generate power through solar panels.
Is my home suitable for solar panels?
In some areas of the UK, we receive the same amount of sunlight as Germany, which is one of the biggest markets for solar panels in the world. The majority of UK properties will be suitable for solar panels, and the bigger the roof space, the better. South-facing roofs will usually be better for generating more energy but southwest and west-facing will also work, although you might not achieve as many savings as you would south-facing roofs.
Before you start your solar project, it is important to consider your roof material, as solar panels will work most effectively with durable roofing materials that are easy to mount the panels securely onto. If it is likely that you will be replacing your roof soon, it is probably worthwhile waiting until after it has been replaced before you arrange to have solar panels installed.
Now that we have uncovered some of the frequently asked questions on solar in the UK – we wanted to make sure we cover our basis on other FAQ’s on solar power.
Will the quality of my electricity suffer once I get solar panels in the UK?
If your solar panels are correctly installed by a professional company, your system should switch seamlessly between using power from the National Grid and the power generated from your solar panels. With good quality solar panels, you should not notice any difference in your electricity supply.
How does this work with my existing gas and electricity supplier?
When you have solar panels installed, your Feed-in Tariff is set by tracking market prices. If your current energy supplier is not in the Feed-in tariff scheme, you have the choice of switching your Feed-in Tariff to an eligible supplier and staying with your existing supplier for your household energy. Alternatively, you can switch to a new supplier for both your household energy and your Feed-in Tariff.
All energy suppliers who have more than 250,000 customers must be part of the Feed-in Tariff scheme, so there is a good chance yours is in the scheme. All of the most popular suppliers such as British Gas and Scottish Power are in the scheme, but it is worth checking whether your supplier is in the scheme before deciding on solar panels.
The amount of tariff you are eligible for will depend on the technology and capacity of your PV system, but it will not change when you switch energy suppliers, as the tariff is provided by Ofgem.
To summarise, if your property is suitable and you are going to be living there for at least 10 years, you will make your money back and start making significant savings. Even if you decide to move house, they will increase the value of your home, so in most cases, it is worthwhile having solar panels installed, even living in the UK.
To make sure that you generate the maximum amount of energy, you need a quality supplier and installer, so contact SolarCentric and we can help you to start generating solar power through our latest technology solar panels.
The global renewable energy industry grew at its fastest rate last year since 1999, and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power projects grew by 50% more than its growth before the Coronavirus pandemic! This clean energy demand could not be more timelier with the threat of climate change expecting to worsen the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. With more people investing, over time, we will get to see just how powerful renewable energy can be.
With the number in renewable investments predicted to increase again, we must keep this momentum going. But despite the fact more of us are committing to limitless, green energy – there are a few obstacles that some consumers face when it comes to investing in solar.
The reason for this is, some are weary of switching, especially homeowners due to not understanding the cost, not knowing how solar energy systems work and what type of maintenance is required. We understand that these areas are not talked about enough, but we can break this down, simplify the process and uncover common confusion and misconceptions around solar PV.
How does solar work?
A big misconception is that in order to own solar panels you need to live in an area that is always sunny. This is simply not true – anyone can have solar! The panels will always receive direct day light even on cloudy and rainy days.
The photovoltaic cells on the panels turn the light into direct current electricity. This current flows into an inverter and converts it to alternative electricity, which is then fed through a meter and then into your homes consumer units. Your system will automatically use the free electricity you generate but any energy you do not use, will be exported to the National Grid.
To avoid this, people invest in a solar battery system to store more of the energy they use – ready for the colder, darker days.
How much can you save?
This is a big confusion most people have when shopping for solar panels. Let’s use an example:
If a house is using 6000kW (kilowatt’s) a year, and then you were to install a 4kW solar panel system – over half of the energy used would potentially come from the solar system, saving you 50% of the energy bill.
If you’re at home most of the day, then you will see quicker and more obvious savings as you will be directly using your solar power during peak times when solar power is most effective.
But if you’re not home most of the day and use energy in the evening, your savings will reduce as most of your energy will be going back to the National Grid. Again, this is why people look to invest in battery storage systems to harness more of the energy they make.
You can also earn money from your solar panels – by signing up to the Smart Export Guarantee system and do Grid trading. Note that the SEG only applies to people who installed their solar panels after 31st March 2019. Some energy providers are offering around 5.5p/kWh of exported electricity, with a 4kWp solar panel system could make around £340 per year!
This is just another great way to encourage people to use renewable energy to power their homes.
Are solar panels hard to maintain?
To confirm, solar panels are definitely ‘fit and forget’ technology – but this should not be taken so literally, solar panel maintenance is still required. Your panels will come with warranties and guarantees but to conduct your own check-ups, we made a simple solar panel maintenance checklist:
– Clean your panels once a year to ensure maximum efficiency (but if you cannot access the roof yourself, always get a professional cleaning company that offers a solar panel cleaning service). If you would rather do this yourself, be sure to use a soft brush, as a scourer will scratch the panels and cause a lot of damage which can be costly to repair. Also, make sure to use lots of water to wash away any excess soap.
– Make a conscious reminder to check your panels for any debris. Overtime there could be a build or an unfortunate storm may hit your area causing lots of debris and this can result in your panels underperforming due to the photovoltaic (PV) cells being blocked. To remove this you should hire a cleaning company to ensure the mess has been removed properly and that your panels are receiving direct sunlight.
– The life span of solar panels last around 20 – 25 years, and if your system is failing this will most likely be down to your inverter – which typically needs replacing after 10 years. Replacing this will only maximise your energy production and again, potentially provide more energy that can be sold to the Grid.
It’s no secret that solar power is having its moment in the sun and will only become more popular, with fossil fuels becoming increasingly less competitive. But confusion around their functionality and maintenance is still an ongoing issue for some people and one of the main reasons for this is because other companies use lots of industry jargon. This is not exactly helpful, if we want to be able to meet our climate targets and avoid irreparable damage to our home. Whilst toxic, fossil fuel prices in the UK will continue to rise, you could be providing clean air and cheaper energy. Don’t forget, for your green efforts you could even make money back!
Start your solar energy journey with us
Our team are more than happy to take your call and organise a video consultation to show you how we design a system that works for you. We can then send over to you a free, no obligation quote!
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