Enough energy from the Sun falls on the Earth in one hour to power the World’s needs for a whole year. Solar PV or photovoltaics is the process by which sunlight is captured and converted into electricity. This is achieved by using a thin layer of semi-conducting material, usually silicon, encased between a sheet of glass and polymer resin. This type of technology has been around for decades and is used in satellites and space stations and day to day products such as calculators and watches. When sunlight hits the semi conducting layers it causes the material to become energised. As the layers are both positively and negatively charged this causes a flow of electrons through the material generating a direct current ( DC). This DC current is taken to an inverter which then converts the current into alternating current ( AC) which can then be used domestically.
A typical PV installation can be seen below:
Typical domestic systems range up to 4KW in size due to the Feed In Tariff ( FIT) levels ( explained later) and space constraints. At present a typical on roof 4 KW installation will require between 25 and 30 m2 of roof space. Although solar PV systems can also be mounted on the ground the most common option is to use a frame fixed to an existing roof or a tilted frame on a flat roof system. These are known as ‘ retrofit installations’ and explained further in the FIT section. You can see from the diagram that the panels on the roof create a flow of DC electricity that passes into the inverter. This then converts this current into an AC current and via a generation meter that measures the amount of KW generated into the main consumer unit for the property. From here the electricity generated can either be used by the homeowner thus reducing the amount they need to buy from the grid or exported to the grid.
A typical domestic installation of 3 KW will generate around 2550 KWh/ units of electricity per annum. This is using the SAP calculation of 850 KWh/KW. It is worth noting that factors such as orientation, roof pitch, shadowing, system design and location in the UK all affect the overall performance of the system. Please see the homeowner section for more details.
Solar PV prices have come down dramatically in the last 12 months. A typical 3 KW system may cost between £6 000 and £8000 depending on the type of system and products being used. Even with the current tariffs this can still offer returns of over 10 %. Even higher returns on investment can be achieved on larger systems.
Summary of solar PV tariffs
Total installed capacity (kW)
Generation tariff with eligibility date 1 Aug – 31 Oct 2012
Generation tariff with eligibility date 1 Nov 2012 – 30 April 2013
Lower tariff (if EPC requirement not met) with eligibility date 1 Aug 2012 – 30 April 2013
<4kW (new build and retrofit)
Since the cuts in the FIT scheme in March there has been a lot of bad press over the new rates and the potential returns that can be achieved. However as both the install and product prices have more than halved since the start of 2011 the returns on investment are still very attractive. In fact Solar PV offers the best rate of return with no risk. Please see the table below that shows the return on a 4 KW PV system costing between £7 000 and £10 000:
There are a number of different ways that you can make your moneu work for you.
|Bank or Building Society||1-4%|
|Stocks & Shares (low risk)||3-6%|
|Stocks & Shares (Medium risk)||5-8%|
|Stocks & Shares (High risk)||5-12%|
|Solar PV (no risk)||9-14%|
At present you do not need planning permission to install domestic systems on your existing property as long as it does not protrude over the ridge of the building or be within 200 mm of the edges of the roof. For larger commercial systems there has recently been a policy change and these must be within one metre of the edge of the roof. Exceptions occur in areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or conservation areas/ listed building. For ground mounted installations under 9 m2 the same rules apply.
Yes, we do, if you can't find a kit to suit you whether it be a large commercial project or a flat roof installation don't worry our in-house design team can provide you with a bespoke kit quote to suit your needs.
All solar PV systems must be commissioned once they are installed to ensure they meet MCS standards allowing system owners to register and claim Feed-In Tariff (FIT).
If you are not MCS accredited don't worry we offer a complete commissioning package where one of our qualified and experienced engineers will attend the property and commission the solar PV system.
As part of the package we also put together a complete operations and maintenance manual which includes all the relevant system documentation and certifications, as well as information on how the system works, isolation and shut-down procedures, recommended maintenance including support and repair contact details.
Solar PV systems must be regularly monitored and maintained to avoid costly repairs, ensure warranties are upheld and reduce electricity bills.
Ecolution Energy Services offer a complete O&M package where we will remotely monitor the performance of the system and perform reactive repairs in the event that the system underperforms, minimising any losses. System owners are provided access to our bespoke portal to view this data.
As part of the package we also provide Feed-In Tariff (FIT) management, liaise with utility companies and remotely submit generation meter readings to ensure correct payments are received on time.
Yes, we offer this as part of our additional package allowing end users to maximise their benefits and savings from their solar PV system. With our full range of energy storage systems, we have the perfect solution to complement any solar PV system whether it be domestic or commercial.