Solar Electricity (PV Technology)
If you are interested in becoming a micro-generator, by putting solar panels on the roof of your home, then the articles and information here should help you out. Solar electricity (generated by converting the Sun's rays into electricity) has to be a key part of the energy mix as we move into a new era of electricity generation, so you can play your part by getting appropriate areas of your roof covered with solar PV (solar photo-voltaic) panels.
The essential steps to making this happen are:
- Weigh up the economics of investing thousands of pounds on an installation. Even the cheapest solar installations (using lower-quality PV panels) will have payback estimates of seven years or more - and that's just to get your initial investment back. You will need to wait many more years after that for the financial payback to kick in. Our solar pv cost calculator may help you out here.
- Consider rationally whether you have suitable roofing available. You may really want to put panels up and help provide the country with electricity, but an inappropriate installation is going to be a waste of money and resources. The roof needs to be reasonably south-facing, and at a pitch (slope) of around 40 - 45 degrees. There should be minimal shadow from neighbouring buildings or trees. Your house may be in a conservation area, or have listed status. For more information, read our checklist for a solar installation.
- Assemble a small list of solar installation companies who serve your area. The more local the company, the better; there's no point getting a company that travels half-way across the country and wastes loads of fuel in the process. Also, a local company is easier to deal with if you run into problems.
- Ask your short-list of companies for quotes. They'll almost certainly ask for a home visit, so be prepared to spend several hours showing them round. They will want to get into your loft too, so check that this is possible. You can read our experience of this process here: Compare Solar PV Installers.
- Compare the quotes, taking warranties and product specification into account as well as just the price. Once you have chosen an installer, let them know and they can start the ball rolling!
- Read up on the feed-in tariff, a UK system that pays you for generating electricity from certified renewable systems. Once your PV system is installed, you will need to get your FiT application in so that you can start earning as soon as possible. Read more about the FiT process here.
If you are interested in generating renewable electricity and earning money at the same time, then read on!