What’s the future for Solar PV following recent Feed in Tariff(FiT) cuts?

Why you should use the electricity you generate on site yourself

Let’s be clear, Solar is, and always has been, a great way for homeowners & businesses to save money.

However, over the last 6 years, the Solar PV industry and consumers have focussed onSolar PV and the FiT from an investment and ROI perspective. Both the industry and customers should now view the benefits of solarpv differently; primarily as an environmental sound and sustainable source of low cost energy for consumers.

There’s a growing realisation among residential and business consumers that the key to maximising the benefits of Solar PV systems is to consume as much of the Solar PV electricity generated on-site as possible, because avoiding energy costs now has a higher return on investment than the FiT:

  • The FiT pays the Solar PV electricity generator 6.8p for 1kWh, depending on the system size

vs.

  • The savings from not buying 1kWh(unit) at 15p/kWh are more than twice this.

Most electricity suppliers increase their prices annually, by around 5%. Solar PV generated electricity is a fixed cost for the life of the system, so the PV owner is also hedging against future price rises over the 30-year life of their system.

So, how can Solar PV owners maximise their consumption of Solar PV electricity?

There are a number of options available to help consume Solar PV generated electricity rather than let it flow back to the national grid.

One technology that is gaining increasing popularity is battery storage.  People are curious about how they can store or use electricity rather than letting it return to the grid.  They know about batteries, so increasingly it’s something that comes up in conversation.  Most people are aware how mobile phone batteries have improved in performance over the last few years and how Tesla and other electric car manufacturers are using similar Li-ion technology to power their electric cars.

However, Li-ion technology is expensive on the scale required to store any meaningful amount of electricity for use when the Solar PV stops generating.

Many of our battery storage customers start-off looking at Li-ion but tend to opt for lead acid batteries in the knowledge that they have a useful life of approx 5 years during which time the price point of Li-ion batteries is expected to fall due to manufacturing scale and research.

People are very keen on immersion heater devices; they are an easy “add-on” to solar PV owners’ existing electrical systems.  They work by diverting electricity that starts to flow back to the national grid to heat water in the hot water storage tank, converting surplus solar PV energy to stored heat energy.

During the summer customers’ boilers tend to cycle when producing hot water in the morning & evening.  Many Customers switch off their boiler for the summer,which reduces wear & tear on it and let their solar PV system heat their water up.  The boiler’s still there for back-up if required.

Voltage Optimisation (VO) is a less well known technology where customers install a “step-down transformer” which reduces the incoming voltage from 240V to 230V in keeping with the rest of Europe. Most household appliances operate quite normally at this voltage and so will last longer than if they operate at a higher voltage.  There is also a potential reduction in electrical costs of 10% – 20% depending on what electrical goods are in regular use in the household.

Devices that help consumers increase their “self-consumption” of Solar PV generated electricity are increasingly popular with Solar PV owners who have got used to the return from their feed-in tariff but have come to realise they can improve the overall return from their Solar PV systems and the general energy efficiency of their homes by using more of the energy they are producing.

For more information on any system mentioned here, please get in touch today.

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