Thermal Solar Power - worthwhile under the upcoming RHI scheme?

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  • zeupaterzeupater Forumite
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    I'm going to Germany tonight, I'll ask installers for you for a quote on a 2kW and 4kW system installed and let you know, won't very scientific but it will be from the horses mouth.
    Thanks, that would be quite interesting .... I could compare it to what a number of friends paid for their systems to see if prices have dropped even further, it'll be good to wind them up .... :D

    Regarding the average size of systems in Germany (~32kWp) being far larger than the UK, this is very much skewed by a few massive systems such as the 80.7MWp plant at Finsterwalde, equivalents of which have not yet been been built in the UK. The Finsterwalde plant alone is the equivalent to adding ~350Wp to every other installation in Germany.

    A good idea of what typical German installations look like is available on the SolarWorld website .... http://www.suntrol-portal.com/en/plant/search/browse

    HTH
    Z
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
    B)
  • edited 21 March 2011 at 10:24AM
    juliusceasorjuliusceasor Forumite
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    edited 21 March 2011 at 10:24AM
    zeupater wrote: »
    Hi All


    Putting this into context, a 3.96kWp system in Germany would have been fully fitted for an average of around £9147 last year, and both their installers and wholesale supply chain still made a profit, whilst in the UK the comparable baseline seems to be in the region of £14.5k.

    I just wonder what the average cost of a 4kWp system would be right now in Germany, probably somewhere between £8.6k & £8.9k would be a good guess ..... makes you wonder, doesn't it ??

    HTH
    Z
    Indeed the average install cost per watt is lower in Germany, but that is for larger sized arrays. For the the typical 2-4kW array size here there is a 10% approximately rise in the cost per watt. which I think your example illustrates.
    zeupater wrote: »

    A good idea of what typical German installations look like is available on the SolarWorld website .... http://www.suntrol-portal.com/en/plant/search/browse

    HTH
    Z

    The flip side of this is that there are a number of companies /installers without work or working only for a wage at the present time i.e no scope to invest. The result of too much competition and reduced level of installations, despite falls in install costs.

    The effect in the UK would be to limit the number of installers and therefore decrease competition if prices fall too quickly here in the UK, because it will limit the incentive to do so either by a fall in FIT or a fall in profit.

    There is a high cost to entry to the market and to remain professional on going cost. Given that the FIT payment made to a client covers the cost of install in around 10 years then I believe the original 2012 review date was a reasonable timescale to review the fit Payment to drive down £/w.
    Competition is driving down the prices currently and I suspect you could find prices below the £14.5k you mention now.

    There are no real losers in the PV market at the moment, yes there may be a barrier to install for some due to cost but the barrier will reduce within a 12 month period along with the FIT.

    SMA - to all those reciting high cost of maintenance over the 25 years of the FIT reducing the ROI well I have good news, SMA predict a 50% fall in the price of their inverters within 5 years, due to improved design, lower cost of production and other factors, in response to Cheaper foreign products, but without the loss in quality and performance.
  • edited 15 April 2011 at 1:33PM
    GazpabloGazpablo Forumite
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    edited 15 April 2011 at 1:33PM
    You may be interested to see details of a new system based on thermodynamics (by the way I'm not promoting any company). The thermodynamic panels apparently work both day and night by a circulating refrigerant/gas which then generates hot water, and can provide hot water for central heating systems (although may require over-sized radiators) and under floor heating systems. I am seriously investigating this option as it offers the possibility of all year round operation. I understand several of these systems have now been installed in Ireland. See for example www.thermalreflections.co.uk/energie-solar-heating-system
    and

    www.energie.pt/english/
  • zeupaterzeupater Forumite
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    Gazpablo wrote: »
    You may be interested to see details of a new system based on thermodynamics (by the way I'm not promoting any company). The thermodynamic panels apparently work both day and night by a circulating refrigerant/gas which then generates hot water, and can provide hot water for central heating systems (although may require over-sized radiators) and under floor heating systems. I am seriously investigating this option as it offers the possibility of all year round operation. I understand several of these systems have now been installed in Ireland. See for example www.thermalreflections.co.uk/energie-solar-heating-system
    and

    www.energie.pt/english/
    Hi

    Effectively an aluminium roll bond evaporator linked to a compressor, the same technology as has been used inside fridges & freezers for decades. I had a quick look at the site referenced but couldn't see any reference to a COP for the entire system. No doubt it would work in high insolation or high ambient remperature areas, but doubt that it would be very efficient at all in the UK.

    HTH
    Z
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
    B)
  • zeupater wrote: »
    Hi

    Effectively an aluminium roll bond evaporator linked to a compressor, the same technology as has been used inside fridges & freezers for decades. I had a quick look at the site referenced but couldn't see any reference to a COP for the entire system. No doubt it would work in high insolation or high ambient remperature areas, but doubt that it would be very efficient at all in the UK.

    HTH
    Z

    Its basically a fairly rubbish air source heat pump combined with thermal solar. - Could be very clever under certain conditions - I think in fact its going to outpace normal thermal solar when you have marginal solar just like in the UK - whether it is better than a dedicated air source heat pump is another question though!
  • edited 17 April 2011 at 3:17PM
    zeupaterzeupater Forumite
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    edited 17 April 2011 at 3:17PM
    Its basically a fairly rubbish air source heat pump combined with thermal solar. - Could be very clever under certain conditions - I think in fact its going to outpace normal thermal solar when you have marginal solar just like in the UK - whether it is better than a dedicated air source heat pump is another question though!
    Hi

    The problem as it would see it is that the collector plate isn't insulated or glazed at all, therefore a good proportion of the energy collected by insolation will simply be emitted back to the surroundings, thus reducing the efficiency. I agree that in low/no light conditions the system will effectively be an air source heat pump, however, without forced airflow over the surface I can't see that it could form anywhere near as effective heat exchanger as a blown unit, unless there is a massive surface area, so I for one wouldn't touch one.

    Some time ago I came across details for an ASHP with a passive evaporator unit which was designed to be a garden ornamental feature. A number of the brochure pictures showed a build up of frost on the surfaces and an accumulation of ice on the ground below it, it is likely that this would also be the case on this design of system in low ambient temperatures, thus modifying the light absorption properties a little.

    HTH
    Z
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
    B)
  • edited 7 January 2012 at 11:34PM
    beastmanbeastman Forumite
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    edited 7 January 2012 at 11:34PM
    I found this thread as I have been looking specifically at solar hot water for an essay that I am writing. I am looking at reasons why the UK has been so slow to take up this technology as compared to say Denmark or Germany. Are there other reasons apart from higher government incentives and perhaps lower costs in these countries?

    Obviously warmer countries like Spain has an advantage with the PV market and there is crossover with solar hot water but when you have Denmark or Germany that have similar climates to the UK , we are miles behind them in terms of installations per capita.

    If those in who are in the know who have already contributed to this thread can give some insight I would very grateful.

    Addition - does anyone know what subsidies were offered in Germany?
  • beastmanbeastman Forumite
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    germany has solar farms , whilst in the uk we want to stick panels on a house roof in scotland.....

    http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazine/solar-news/current/2011/kw39/78-mw-of-the-worlds-largest-solar-photovoltaic-plant-connected-to-grid-in-senftenberg-germany.html

    ^^

    78mw from 1 farm

    Yes thanks for that. I've seen a little bit of information on district heating in many of the northern European countries. Although useful for my essay I was perhaps thinking more towards standalone domestic installations.
    I guess it helps that most housing in these countries are significantly better insulated, thereby making an install more viable for space heating (no idea though if thats really viable in most homes in Denmark and Germany without a huge install though).

    I also wondered if its common place for these systems to supply preheated water to washing machines and dishwashers as that's clearly not the norm in the UK which is a real waste of energy.
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    beastman wrote: »
    I found this thread as I have been looking specifically at solar hot water for an essay that I am writing. I am looking at reasons why the UK has been so slow to take up this technology as compared to say Denmark or Germany. Are there other reasons apart from higher government incentives and perhaps lower costs in these countries?

    There are several reasons. The main one being solar thermal is a complete waste of money.

    If you search through several threads in this section you will see several references(and a link) to a Government sponsored study testing, over a 12 month trial, 10 solar thermal systems.

    The report is very long and technical, but in essence it showed that the DHW(Domestic Hot Water) on average saved approx 1,000kWh per year.

    That if you have gas will save you about £40 a year, or £50 if you have Economy 7. You also, at daytime electricity rates, have to run a pumps and power the electronics.

    Even then the great majority of hot water is in the summer months and virtually nothing in the winter. The best Navitron evacuated tube panel produces DHW worth about £1 in the whole of January.

    Now of course you can have more and more panels fitted(at a cost) and supply all your hot water needs in the summer months, but still little in the winter.

    The Energy Saving Trust stated that the savings from solar thermal for the average houses heating/DHW bill would be 5.5%

    Secondly costs.

    The Solar Thermal industry have a well deserved reputation of selling tactics that would make a Double Glazing salesman blush! They were number one in the complaints to any Trading Standards office and subject of many Watchdog type programmes.

    Their claims of savings are absolutely stupid, and some of the prices quoted on MSE and elsewhere unbelievable - '£15,000 with 20% reduction if you sign today!'

    It seems £4,000 might be a reasonable price to pay - but nobody interested in money saving would dream of paying that sort of money for such meagre returns.
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