More solar for Sussex! Carrie the founder of Sussex Green Living and her husband Brian have fulfilled their new year’s resolution by calling in local firm CC Solar to install ten solar panels on the roof of their Sussex home. So now they power their home using daylight and the sun’s almost limitless energy rather than having to buy electricity from the national grid. For the last 7 years Carrie and Brian have been buying 100% renewable energy (delivered to their home through the national grid of course), but now they have their very own self generated 100% renewable energy.
Not long ago the idea of powering your home from the sun was considered somewhat
“hippy”, yet already it is a reality for many. A group of Dutch entrepreneurs is even planning to produce a solar motor car – powered entirely by the sun – in 2019. Wow!
The growing power of solar
Over the past decades solar technology has experienced stunning progress. This slide from The Climate Reality Project shows how reality is massively outstripping predictions made as recently as 2002:
Solar provider Greenmatch has put together this table showing the pros and cons of four types of solar panel:
How much electricity can you get?
Carrie has monitoring system which shows how much electricity has been generated and how many CO2 emissions have been saved.
Makes me want to push the boat out and get one myself!
Depends how you use it. The more you can save, the less you need, simple as that. In my home we use around 2000Kw a year, and looking at Carrie’s electricity generation from her roof, bearing in mind it’s winter, I think we could generate all our own power from solar panels.
Carrie and Brian did consider the option of battery storage to capture excess energy in the day to use at night, however the cost of lithium storage batteries is still very high. Carrie said “We are going to monitor our energy generation and use over the next 6 months to a year and then review the costs of batteries”. She continued “Our household energy strategy has had to change from using the washing machine, charge the car etc at night when our energy prices are half price, to doing these activities in the day when we have solar energy”.
How much does it cost?
A 3kw installation with 12 panels could cost £4000 – £5500 to install, depending on the type of panels and inverter monitoring system and requires 21 square metres of roof space.
What’s the payback time?
In our case we could possibly cover our costs in 6-7 years. On top of that you may be eligible for the government feed-in tariff in the UK, which means the government actually pays you for generating your own power, and selling some of it back to the national grid (see https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/fit).
How does the feed-in-tariff (FIT) work?
Generation tariff: your energy supplier will pay you a set rate for each unit (or kWh) of electricity you generate. Once your system has been registered, the tariff levels are guaranteed for the period of the tariff (up to 20 years) and are index-linked.
Export tariff: your energy supplier will pay you a further rate for each unit you export back to the electricity grid, so you can sell any electricity you generate but don’t use yourself. At some stage smart meters will be installed to measure what you export, but until then the energy you export is estimated as being 50 per cent of the electricity you generate. Similarly, the export tariff is index-linked.
Energy bill savings: you will be making savings on your electricity bills because generating electricity to power your appliances means you don’t have to buy as much electricity from your energy supplier. The amount you save will vary depending how much of the electricity you use on site.
The panels will provide almost half Carrie and Brian’s energy needs, but that includes their electric car which they charge at home.
Bonus energy saving
CC Solar, who installed the solar system, recommended Carrie and Brian install a Solic 200 device. It is an intelligent immersion heater controller that automatically converts energy generated by the existing PV panels into hot water, by diverting excess solar power to the immersion heater before it’s exported to the national grid. Currently the water is heated by their oil boiler, so savings will be made here especially in the summer when the heating system is not on.
What does the future hold?
Power your home from your windows! Photovoltaic glass panels that use artificial photosynthesis and fit into buildings and could enable them to generate all their energy – from the windows! Visit the Onyx Solar web site for details.
Smart technology can significantly improve the efficiency of your solar PV installation – https://www.earthwiseproducts.co.uk/efficiency/
Solar power in the home is without doubt a reality and Carrie and her husband Brian have proved it.
If you are interested in installing solar or an EV charge point we highly recommend Sussex based CC Solar, they carry out installations throughout the Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. They’ve been established for over 20 years and have an excellent reputation for straight talking honest and free advice. Call Trevor on 01903 734817 or 07778 015682 or visit http://ccsolar.co.uk/.
by Clive Margolis
Clive writes about green living alternatives and local Sussex environmental issues through his website Inspirationalise – www.inspirationalise.com
“Greening Sussex by Sussex families”