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Feed in Tariff

Feed in Tariff Feed in Tariffs were introduced by UK Government in 2010. The scheme compels energy suppliers to pay you for the electricity you produce via PV solar panels - and sees you paid extra for any electricity you export back to the grid.

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FAQ At solarpanels.co.uk, we want to remove the confusion and mystique around solar energy. So if your queries aren't answered in other areas of the site, you'll most likely find what you're looking for here - in our Solar FAQ.

Archive for March, 2011

Solar Panel Efficiency

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This May Suprise You…

We’ve all heard about the green credentials of solar panels and other renewable technologies – so you’d be forgiven for thinking that all solar installations work at a staggeringly high efficiency.

In fact, the efficiency of a PV (photovoltaic) solar panel is much lower than you might expect. It’s actually around 15 to 20%.

Now, compared to modern day boilers, which boast efficiency ratings of 90% and upwards, this figure seems tiny. Miniscule.

But it’s important to remember that most boilers are powered by non-renewable energy sources like gas or oil, whereas solar panels use the free, renewable energy of the sun.

So, despite the relative inefficiency of PV solar plates, they still represent better news for the environment AND bigger savings for the homeowner.

Solar Thermal Efficiency

Solar thermal (hot water) systems offer efficiency levels more in keeping with what we might expect from a renewable technology. These panels (flat plate collectors and evacuated tubes) are up to 90% efficient.

That means 90% of the solar radiation which hits the plate ends up heating your domestic water – only 10% is wasted in the process.

Good news for you, and just as good for the environment; after all, the 10% which is lost doesn’t do any harm – unlike the waste energy produced by other heating methods in the form of CO2.

Energy Efficiency Around The Home

In one respect, the efficiency of your solar panel depends on your other energy efficient actions around the home.

For example, if you use a power-saving shower head or other similar hot-water gadgets, you’ll reduce the strain on your solar system and make your solar energy go that bit further.

Advances In Technology

While PV panels will never be as efficient as Solar Thermal panels, it’s important to remember that the 15% efficiency figure still represents a significant improvement on PV solar panels of the early 90’s.

Those early solar panels worked at efficiencies of around 3 or 4%, so in just a few years the efficiency of photovoltaic solar panels has more than tripled.

That’s all thanks to scientific and technology advances – and already breakthroughs are being made that could take the efficiency of PV panels to an unprecedented 40%.

While it will admittedly be some time before we see panels of this efficiency rating used in domestic installations, you can rest assured that solar is now big business – with energy departments all over the globe continuing to plough money into its development.

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Solar Panel Grants

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How you could save TWICE…

If you’re contemplating the switch to renewable energy, solar panel grants won’t just help make it affordable – they can make it profitable.

For such are the environmental benefits of solar panels, UK Government has put measures in place that see homeowners effectively paid to use them – and that’s on top of the savings you’ll make on your energy bills.

These solar panel grants, introduced in April 2010, are known as feed-in tariffs – and in this blog post we’ll look at how they work and how you can benefit.

Feed-in tariffs for Solar Panels

Feed-in tariffs compel the major UK energy suppliers to pay householders for electricity created at home. Naturally, that includes the electricity you generate through solar panels – and also extends to other renewable technology like wind turbines.

By generating your own electricity through solar power, you don’t have to import from the national grid, so you’ll get paid by your energy supplier for each and every unit of energy you save.

Better still, thanks to these solar panel grants, you’ll get extra income for any electricity you generate but don’t use. In effect, you’re selling this energy back to the grid to be used elsewhere – meaning you get paid twice!

These two forms of income are known as a generation tariff and an export tariff respectively.

Are you eligible for a solar panel grant/feed-in tariff?

If you’re yet to install your solar panels, or they were installed after the 1st April 2010 (by an MCS-certified installer), then you will be eligible to pick up the full tariff payments.

Your installer will provide an eligibility certificate, which you’ll need to show to your energy supplier in order to start claiming.

If your installation was completed prior to that date, and you previously collected ROC payments, then you’ll need to have switched to the feed-in tariff by the end of March 2010. If you didn’t, then unfortunately you won’t qualify.

How much could you save?

Your savings (or earnings as you may prefer to think of it) will depend on the size, type and efficiency of your solar panel installation. It will also depend on when your panels were installed, with more recent installations earning at a different rate to older ones.

As a rough guide though, the Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical domestic installation (2.2kwp) should earn the homeowner up to £800 per year. That’s in addition to the £120 you’d save on your electricity bill.

As a general rule, the more electricity you create, the more money you make – but be aware that installations over 5 Mega Watts are excluded under the terms of the scheme.

Check out the cashback calculator on the EST website for a more accurate idea of what you could save.

Are there any other solar panel grants available?

Not quite yet; but there will be very soon…

The RHI (Renewable Heating Incentive) is expected to come into force in the summer of 2011, and will effectively replicate the methodology of feed-in tariffs – but homeowners will be paid for generating heat energy, rather than electricity.

As soon as more details are released, we’ll put the spotlight on the RHI and see what’s in it for you.

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