Monday, 17 September 2012

PROPERTY ARTICLE: Why go solar? Copyright SvD.

Why go solar?

I have observed that many of the new build developments of apartments and houses appear to have solar panels on their rooftops. This is encouraging and shows that building companies are taking solar energy very seriously indeed.

There are good reasons to go solar:

Apart from the obvious reason of protecting the environment – fossil fuel power plants release harmful CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and contribute to pollution which in turn can lead to illnesses such as asthma or even in extremis, cancer. Solar energy is completely green and releases no emissions.  Once installed the system requires no maintenance so despite a one off initial cost, the system will pay you back handsomely with savings over the years.

Solar energy is also gaining popularity and another reason to invest in it, is to give our British industry a boost- there is much research and development still to be undertaken in the field of solar energy. Plus the actual manufacture of the panels could be done here in the UK. The solar energy industry in the US accounts for a workforce of 60,000. In Germany, which is a leading manufacturer of the technology, the workforce is in excess of 100,000.

I should explain here that there are two solar energy systems in use for residential consumption: thermal, which harnesses the sun’s rays to heat water and electrical (or photovoltaic, known as PV) which converts the sun’s energy into electricity.

It is possible to for solar energy to supply all of a household’s energy needs. This is probably the most exciting reason to go solar- why pay the electricity and gas companies when you can be self-sufficient for your energy needs?

You may even add value to your home by installing a solar energy supply - prospective buyers will be impressed with the eco-friendliness of solar plus the savings they will be able to enjoy.

Apart from the initial cost of going solar – which is high and averages around £6,500.-£8,500. for electric and thermal installation respectively for a two bedroom apartment (total cost for both installations will be around £15,000.), the long term savings outweigh the outlay involved in going solar.

A detached 6 bedroom house will require a greater KWh or supply of energy so the system will be more expensive and would average between £8,550-£11,500. respectively for electric and thermal installation. Please note these figures are ball mark and the final amount is dependent on the property structure, energy requirements and installation costs.

There are government incentives available to go solar-

Feed in tariffs for PV solar electric panels

The average income from this scheme is around £750 per annum. This income is derived from the guaranteed price you will be paid plus the savings you make and thirdly, you can sell the surplus of electricity that you produce to the National Grid. The price paid is 21 pence per KWh of electricity produced even if you use it yourself!

Feed in tariffs for solar heating panels

A Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme or RHU feed in tariff, offers 8.5p per KWh of electricity produced and provides a guaranteed income for 20 years.

It appears that the PV solar electric panels are the more popular as the incentives are more attractive. Do check with the council before installing solar energy either thermal or electric as there may be restrictions particularly if the building is listed. For leasehold properties you will need to check the Head Lease and you will most likely need approval from the owner of the freehold. The companies that install solar energy for either thermal or electrics will carry out their own survey as well prior to starting any works and will need to have sight of the approval before they commence installation.

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