Things to know before intalling a solar pv system

Installing a Solar PV system in your home

There are a wide variety of questions our clients have asked us about over the years, so in this article, we aim to help and advise you with some key points you should be aware of BEFORE you buy.

Our free local site survey will determine which system is best suited to your specific needs of those of your property. It is very rare for properties in the Cambridgeshire area to be affected by more than one of these factors which is why we are confident that any solar PV system we specify will be perfect for you.

What you need to know about Solar pv energy

In the UK, our climate is seasonal so the strength of sunlight will vary throughout the year, as does the temperature. Both these factors affect the ability of a solar PV panel to produce electricity.

Here are some important factors that will affect solar PV power generation.

Sunlight: How much do you get?

Your location will determine how much sunlight you receive. The Southwest gets more than the Scottish Highlands for instance. The Government publishes estimates of the output of solar systems across the country using your post code along with the orientation of your pv system relative to South, plus the angle of the roof.

This gives you a reliable indication of the output of your system, the Feed in Tariff (FiT) payments you will receive and the return you can expect from your Solar PV investment.

Sunlight and Solar radiation in different UK regions and times of year.

Solar radiation map of the UK

Daily sunlight intensity over a year

Solar radiation map UK

Solar Intensity Map

Average annual rainfall:

When it’s raining heavily the sunlight has very little chance of penetrating both cloud cover and a virtual water barrier to reach the Solar panels and generated electricity.

Cloud cover:

Cloudy and rainy regions will receive less sunlight than those without rain & clouds. This doesn’t automatically mean that Solar PV panels are a non-starter though as Solar PV panels will typically produce electricity from “diffuse” sunlight even if this is only 20% of optimum levels.

Air density:

Higher altitudes have better exposure to sunlight than those at sea-level. This is simply because the air is thinner at higher altitudes so sunlight is less scattered.

Average annual temperatures: Hotter is not always better

The silicon cells in solar PV panels are semi-conductors. These are more efficient at lower temperatures, so if you live in a very hot area (in summer) this may be a factor to consider. A 5 degree increase above 25 degrees will lead to a 1% reduction in output.  So in the Gulf states where temperatures can exceed 40 degrees they always install additional panels to compensate for this.

Wind: Ensure panels are properly mounted

If you are in an exposed, windy spot, mounting the solar PV array properly is paramount. Wind can damage both the equipment and reduce energy output and therefore your financial returns.  So again, ensure you use an experienced installation company who offer solid guarantees on their work.  We calculate the wind-loading forces on solar arrays to ensure they will be stable in any circumstances and install them in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to minimise the effect of wind, flexing the panels and creating damaging micro-fissures in the solar cells that result in reduced output

Shade: Sunlight impairment reduces output

Are you in a heavily built-up area or one that is overlooked by tall trees or buildings?  When the sun goes behind a tall building, direct sunlight reaching the panels is reduced; this means the output of the system is reduced.  In the winter the numbers of daylight hours are less, further reducing output.

How obstructions impair sunlight reaching your solar pv panels

Sunlight impairment diagram

So is Solar pv right for you?

None of this means that solar pv won’t work for you, but as part of our service, we offer you a free site survey to assess the most suitable system for your specific location.

Possible mounting points for solar PV panels

House roof pv mounting positions

 

Do the numbers stack up for you? Find out here

To determine how suitable your home might be for solar PV & estimate the likely returns, enter your information
into our free and instant online solar PV output calculator.

 

Calculate solar output from any size of solar pv installation
Click to calculate

If you would like to talk to us about a site survey, you can request a call back or simply contact us by email.

 

Solar PV Feed In Tariffs (FiTs) Summary

  • The level of feed in tariff paid to electricity producers is determined by by the size of the system and is set by Ofgem.  Ofgem review the amount paid for each unit of electricity generated on a quarterly basis.
  • Solar PV feed in tariff (FiTs) payments are set in a contract between the producer and the Government. The rate prevailing at the time of installation is set for 20 yrs.  Payments are increased annually based on RPI inflation in the December preceding the start of the new finacial year.
  • Feed in tariff payments are tax exempt for domestic installations.
  • The Government deems that 50% of electricity produced by a domestic solar PV installation is used in the home and the balance “exported” to the national grid. The exported electricity attracts an additional premium of 4.77p for each unit (kWh) exported.
  • All installations must be carried out by an MCS-approved installer, using MCS-approved products to qualify for the FiTs.
  • The installer provides the customer with a certificate to confirm their solar PV installation qualifies for FiTs. The customer provides this certificate to their electricity provider who pays them, on behalf of Ofgem and the Government for the electricity they produce.
  • All electricity sales organisations add a small levy to every unit (kWh) of electricity sold.  This levy funds the FiTs scheme.  So all electricity consumers(domestic & commercial) fund the FiTs scheme NOT Central Government.  The electricity sales companies hold this levy in a nominal account for Ofgem and apply to Ofgem to pay you from it when you claim your FiTs.
  • There are a finite number of domestic and commercial electricity users in the UK this determines the budget available to pay Solar PV Fits. The Dept of Energy Climate Change refer to this as the spending envelope.

If you would like to know more about how you can benefit from the Government incentives to install Solar PV please call us on 01480 819 740, email us via our website contact form or request a call back.

Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC)

On 1st April 2010, the government’s CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) Energy Efficiency legislation came into effect.  The legislation applies to companies with at least one electricity meter settled on the half-hourly market. Organisations that use more than 6,000 megawatt-hours of half hourly metered electricity in 2008, equivelant to an electricity bill of about £500,000, will be required to participate in the scheme.

Participants’ emissions are used to rank them in a publicly viewable League table and they are expected to reduce their emissions year on year.  The CRC legislation includes civil & criminal charges for non compliance.

By developing a CO2 reduction plan incorporating Solar PV generated electricity companies can:

  • reduce their electricity costs, which will be increasingly important as energy costs escalate over time;
  • create a commercial opportunity to sell excess production for a higher premium than the Government’s “Export Tariff”;
  • demonstrate their commitment to their corporate environmental objectives;
  • protect their corporate reputation;
  • avoid CRC financial penalties;
  • allow customers to identify & select low carbon suppliers of goods & services.

This allows participant companies to gain competitive advantage.

Examples of Business use of renewables:

  • Analysts at a major high street retailer, that spent £70m on electricity in 2009, predicted that their electricity costs will increase to £120m over the period 2010 – 2020.  Their solution to manage this cost increase was to install Solar PV where ever possible on their stores’ roofs.  This is part of their “Plan A”.  Source: Ray Noble, Renewable Energy Association.
  • An EU wide meat packer with a turnover of >£500m has a site in Huntingdon which consumes £1m of electricity a year.  They have 3000m2 of roof area over three factories which could be used to install Solar PV.  To do this will cost approx £1.4m and will produce an income of approx £140k a year resulting in payback of investment in approximately 8 years & an annual ROI of 10%.

Government improves the planning (permission) process for Solar PV Panels

Planning Permission for Solar Panels

Solar Panels, guidance for England.

Planning Permission

In many cases installing solar panels on domestic land is likely to be considered ‘permitted development’ with no need to apply to the council for planning permission. There are, however, important limits and conditions which must be met to benefit from the permitted development rights (see below). You may wish to discuss with the local planning authority for your area whether all of the limits and conditions will be met.

Solar panels mounted on a house or on a building within the grounds of a house.

All the following conditions must be observed:

  • Panels on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area.

 All the following limits must be met:

  • Panels should not be installed above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney) and should project no more than 200mm from the roof slope or wall surface.
  • The panels must not be installed on a building that is within the grounds of a listed building.
  • The panels must not be installed on a site designated as a scheduled monument.
  • Wall mounted only – if your property is in a conservation area, or in a World Heritage Site, panels must not be fitted to a wall which fronts a highway.

 Stand alone solar panel installations (panels not on a building)

All the following conditions must be observed:

  • Panels on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the amenity of the area.

 All the following limits must be met:

  • Only the first stand alone solar installation will be permitted development. Further installations will require planning permission.
  • No part of the installation should be higher than four metres
  • The installation should be at least 5m from the boundary of the property
  • The size of the array should be no more that 9 square metres or 3m wide by 3m deep
  • Panels should not be installed within boundary of a listed building or a scheduled monument.
  • if your property is in a conservation area, or in a World Heritage Site, no part of the solar installation should be nearer to any highway bounding the house than the part of the house that is nearest to that highway.

Note – permitted development rights for solar panels are available for both single houses and buildings which consist wholly of flats.

Note – If you are a leaseholder you may need to get permission from your landlord, freeholder or management company.

NOTE: It is the responsibility of the owner of the building or land where Solar PV panels are to be installed to ensure that they have permission for their solar panels installation by enquiring with the relevant authorities. Local authority websites have “Planning Permission Enquiry” forms for householders to check whether a solar panels installation is a permitted development or requires planning permission.

It is not the installer’s responsibility to check whether an installation is allowed under planning (permitted development) regulations or requires planning permission.

Building Regulations

If you wish to install a solar panel on your roof building regulations will normally apply. The ability of the existing roof to carry the load (weight) of the panel will need to be checked and proven. Some strengthening work may be needed. Building regulations also apply to other aspects of the work such as electrical installation. It is advisable to contact an installer who can provide the necessary advice, preferably one who belongs to the Competent Person Scheme.

For further information follow this link:

http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/commonprojects/solarpanels/

VAT

The Government have set a reduced rate of 5% VAT for the supply & installation of renewable technology on most buildings, a reduction of 15% from the prevailing VAT rate. This applies if the installation company procures and installs a Solar PV panels system, however if energy-saving materials are supplied without solar panels installation the supply is standard-rated for VAT.

Tax

You pay NO tax on revenue you receive from Solar PV Feed in Tariffs from domestic installations.

 

Solar panels for Your Business

Are you considering investing in renewable energy? Renewable energy is the intelligent investment choice offering reduced energy bills, an additional revenue stream from Government incentives and protection against rising energy costs. Solar panels also provide a visual demonstration of your corporate commitment to the environment whilst lowering your CO2 emissions and so reducing your carbon footprint and reducing the “energy taxes” business pays through the climate change levy(CCL) and the CRC energy efficiency scheme. Solar Panels Cambs is a company that can help you. We have over 12 years experience in the property and renewable energy markets. We offer honest, unbiased advice for customers considering installing solar panels on their business premises.

In these environmentally conscious times, businesses have to prove that they are operating in an energy efficient way. Although “sustainability” is a buzz word it should be more than just a PR exercise to boost your company’s profile, there is a legal requirement through the climate change levy(CCL) and the CRC energy efficiency scheme to reduce CO2 emissions and meet efficiency targets by using renewable energy sources. By installing solar panels on the roofs of your business premises you will be using one of the cleanest sources of renewable energy, with no noise or emissions and little or no maintenance. You can reduce your CO2 emissions and carbon footprint whilst maximising your business assets.

Additional revenue stream with solar panels for business

By installing solar PV panels on your business premises you will be shielding your business from increasing energy costs as well as significantly reducing your energy bills – by up to 25%. Your business can earn an annual return on investment (ROI) of 8%-12% from the government’s Feed in Tariff (FiT) scheme. The FiT scheme pays you for every kWh of electricity generated from your business solar panel system, whilst you are free to use as much of the electricity you produce as you wish. You are also paid an additional premium for each kWh you export back to the grid. The FiT’s payments you receive will vary depending on the size of the solar panel system you install but they are guaranteed to increase annually by RPI inflation for the 25 years length of the contract.

We will work with you from the initial consultation and design stage right through to installation and commissioning. We will ensure you get the most out of your investment by designing a bespoke solar panel system that fits your business needs. One of our management team will be on hand during the installation to ensure it all goes smoothly and that there is no disruption to your business. You can rely on our team of experienced MCS certified installers whose detailed and conscientious approach will ensure you are 100% satisfied with your solar panel installation. Contact our experienced team today for more information.

Solar Panels for your Commercial Premises

If you are thinking about a renewable energy solution for your commercial premises then Solar Panels Cambs are a company that can help. Renewable energy not only offers a investment opportunity for businesses but a cost effective, visual statement to your customers, suppliers and employees that you are serious about your responsibility towards the environment. Installation of solar panels will allow you to maximise the value of your property and as each system is custom designed, we will ensure you maximise the return on your investment and meet the specific requirements of your business and commercial property.

It is no longer enough to prove your company is energy efficient. It may be a credential that will boost your company’s profile however for many large businesses it is now a legal requirement to meet CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme targets by using renewable sources. Solar panels are a proven and reliable technology that will provide the perfect renewable energy solution for your commercial premises. Solar panels are one of the cleanest sources of renewable energy with no noise or emissions and little or no maintenance. These are all very appealing aspects for a business in the commercial world.

Solar panels make great commercial sense

You could earn 8%-12% annual return on your investment for generating electricity by installing solar panels on your commercial buildings. The government offer an incentive scheme called Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) under which you will be paid for every kWh of electricity you generate from your system. Solar PV FiTs are guaranteed to increase annually by RPI inflation for 25 years, 2011 and 2012 increases were both 4.8%. The government deemed that you export 50% of the electricity you produce, so you are paid an additional 3p for each kWh you export back to the grid. By installing solar panels on your commercial property you will be protecting yourself and your business from rapidly rising energy costs as well as opening up an additional revenue stream and substantially reducing your current energy bills.

It is important to any commercial enterprise that business runs smoothly without interruption. When installing your solar panel system our team of experienced engineers will ensure there is minimum disruption to your business and its employees. First of all we will work with you to get the most out of your commercial property by designing a bespoke system that will ensure the maximum return on your investment. A member of our management team will be on site every step of the way and our solar panel installation team will work diligently and methodically ensuring the project is completed on time with your 100% satisfaction guaranteed. Contact our team of specialists today and they will be happy to answer any queries you have with regards to installing solar panels on your commercial property.

Solar PhotoVoltaic (PV) Panels Power Generation

The term “photovoltaic” comes from the Greek meaning “light” and “voltaic”, meaning electric, from the name of the Italian physicist Volta after whom the Volt is named.

How solar PV panels work

solar photovoltaic (PV) cell converts the energy from sunlight into electricity by the “photovoltaic effect”.  This refers to photons of (sunlight) solar energy knocking electrons off a layer of silicon semi-conductor in a solar cell in solar panels.  The flow of these electrons to a second silicon layer within the cell builds up a voltage between the two layers creating an electric current.  This flow of electrons produces direct current (DC), which is converted to alternating current (AC) by an inverter so it can be used by appliances in the home or exported to your electricity supplier.  Solar PV Panels can help reduce your electricity bills by 25% and you could earn up to £1000 a year from Government incentives called Feed in Tariffs(FiTs)!

How does it Work?

Solar PV Panels and Renewable electricity production

Solar photovoltaic electricity production is the fastest growing power-generation technology in the world. Between 2004 and 2009, grid-connected PV capacity increased at an annual average rate of 60 percent with Germany seeing the fastest rate of growth.  In 2010 the UK became the fastest growing market globally for Solar PV Panels, incentivised by Feed in Tariffs.

It is estimated that 30% of the UK’s electricity could be generated from renewable sources with 2% from small-scale electricity generation such as Solar PV Panels.  Currently less than 5% of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources.  This represents a significant growth opportunity for electricity generation from renewable sources which the Government have recognised in their Feed in Tariffs which incentivise the installation of Solar PV electricity generation.  Feed In Tariffs are tax free for domestic panels installation and guaranteed to increase annually by RPI inflation for 25 years. Solar PV Panels installed at your business premises can produce 8%-12% annual return on your investment with FiTs increasing annually index linked to RPI.

Help the environment and future generations by installing solar PV panels on your home or business.  Electricity generated from solar PV power does not produce harmful greenhouse gases.  With no noise and no CO2 emissions you can increase your green credentials and reduce your carbon footprint.  Once fitted, you can forget about the panels.  They require little or no maintenance and provide a simple cost effective source of renewable energy.

If you wish to be part of the Renewables Revolution and would like more information about installing panels please contact our experienced team at Solar Panel Cambridgeshire.

The Kyoto Protocol

As a result of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) protocol aimed at fighting Global Warming negotiated in Kyoto “The Kyoto protocol”, the EU has agreed targets to reduce Green house Gases (GHGs) emissions.  The level of all GHGs is translated into their equivalent CO2 levels for reference.

The EU target for the 15 Western Europe member states was an 8% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2012, relative to 1990 base levels, which was achieved.  These countries have a target to reduce their CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, relative to their 1990 levels.

In the UK DECC set a target of a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions between 2010 and 2020.

Renewable Energy

The EU and the UK are actively increasing the amount of Energy produced from Renewable Sources, which generate less CO2 in production, as one way to achieve the Kyoto targets.

To encourage renewable energy generation installations, the UK Government introduced Feed in Tariffs(FiTs).  FiTs have successfully incentivised the installation of renewable energy technologies across Western Europe, especially the installation of Solar PhotoVoltaic (PV) electricity production in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

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