MSE Blog: Yes, I admit it. I have solar panel envy

Options
Former_MSE_Helen
Former_MSE_Helen Posts: 2,382 Forumite
"As someone quite excited about all things renewable energy, when I found out just over three years ago that my new home came complete with solar panels on top, I was over the moon. They’d combine my passion for MoneySaving with my love of saving energy. But the relationship’s turned a little sour…"

Read the full MSE blog:
Yes, I admit it. I have solar panel envy


Click reply below to discuss. If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply. If you aren’t sure how it all works, read our New to Forum? Intro Guide.
«1

Comments

  • penrhyn
    penrhyn Posts: 15,215 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Options
    So to put in crudely you are jealous of your neighbours receiving FIT payments for their Solar PV whilst your Solar thermal panels do not attract any subsidy.
    At least their PV panels are providing a miniscule amount of electricity to the grid.
    Also everyone's energy bill has been increased to subsidise those receiving payments, hardly ethical.
    So you can hold up your head in that respect, you are not milking the system.
    That gum you like is coming back in style.
  • Robwiz
    Robwiz Posts: 364 Forumite
    edited 20 May 2014 at 7:42PM
    Options
    I can understand your viewpoint, but it's all to do with incentives. Developers have to find the optimal way of meeting the sustainability requirements of the local planning authority and building regs. If they install solar thermal then that's because it best mitigates their skimping on insulation or renewable technology elsewhere in the house specification. Remember you also get good value because there is no VAT on a new build.

    For a retrofit, there needs to be an incentive for the home owner to install renewables when they could replace carpets, kitchens or get the garden landscaped. The RHI does the job.

    Personally, my beef would be the solar thermal installation hogging valuable roof area reducing the size of the solar PV installation I could buy.

    I don't think many people have yet made the most of the potential of solar thermal for capturing and storing heat all year round – domestic hot water in the summer is just the tip of the iceberg. The MCS approved installer costs make solar thermal a very unattractive use of capital.
  • Former_MSE_Andrea
    Options
    Robwiz wrote: »
    I can understand your viewpoint, but it's all to do with incentives. Developers have to find the optimal way of meeting the sustainability requirements of the local planning authority and building regs. If they install solar thermal then that's because it best mitigates their skimping on insulation or renewable technology elsewhere in the house specification. Remember you also get good value because there is no VAT on a new build.

    For a retrofit, there needs to be an incentive for the home owner to install renewables when they could replace carpets, kitchens or get the garden landscaped. The RHI does the job.

    Personally, my beef would be the solar thermal installation hogging valuable roof area reducing the size of the solar PV installation I could buy.

    I don't think many people have yet made the most of the potential of solar thermal for capturing and storing heat all year round – domestic hot water in the summer is just the tip of the iceberg. The MCS approved installer costs make solar thermal a very unattractive use of capital.

    I absolutely agree with this, especially it hogging my roof space!

    My EPC from when the house was built shows I could save just under £200 a year with PV panels on meaning (I assume) they could be fitted on the part of roof that doesn't have the solar thermal panels as opposed to replacing the current system.

    I'm not sure trying to combine a new system with the solar thermal system we have is worth the hassle for the potential saving.

    Anyone's thoughts on that gratefully received!
    Could you do with a Money Makeover?


    Follow MSE on other Social Media:
    MSE Facebook, MSE Twitter, MSE Deals Twitter, Instagram
    Join the MSE Forum
    Get the Free MoneySavingExpert Money Tips E-mail
    Report inappropriate posts: click the report button
    Point out a rate/product change
    Flag a news story: news@moneysavingexpert.com
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,038 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
    edited 21 May 2014 at 12:30PM
    Options
    Many new build properties these days have a gas combi boiler fitted as they are cheaper to install and without a Hot Water tank they save space.

    With no hot water tank, solar thermal panels are of little use.


    Do you have gas in your house?


    How much do you estimate solar thermal will save?
  • penrhyn
    penrhyn Posts: 15,215 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Options
    It might be worth investigating the removal of the thermal panels and fitting a solar immersion heater to use spare energy off the PV array. You'd need a water tank of course,
    That gum you like is coming back in style.
  • zag2me
    zag2me Posts: 695 Forumite
    Photogenic First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Options
    Forget about hot water heating panels, they are a false economy.

    You want to rip them out and install a full solar system that feeds into the grid. Anything else is just a waste of resources.
    Save save save!!
  • Robwiz
    Robwiz Posts: 364 Forumite
    edited 21 May 2014 at 5:32PM
    Options
    First, don't believe what you read on the EPC – much of the financial modelling is out of date (both on forecast costs and savings).

    Before thinking about investing in solar PV, have you done all you can to reduce your energy consumption? Low energy light bulbs and appliances, clever gadgets to reduce phantom/standby consumption, smart heating controls, etc. I would imagine that your house is well-insulated and air tight but it might be worth spending a few hundred pounds on a thermographic survey to be certain there are no leaks (we found the installers had missed sealing under the bottom frame of our windows).

    As you have solar thermal installed and it's paid for, it's worth sticking with it and making it work for you. Presumably you have a reasonably sized hot water tank which is heated by solar thermal over the summer without needing any other energy input?

    Many people consume as much of their excess solar PV generation as they can by diverting it to an immersion heater – this doesn't make sense in your case as you are already getting free water heating when the sun shines.

    You could look into how much solar PV capacity you can install and take a view on the finances. For a south-facing set-up, installations generate around 80% of the notional peak output per year (e.g. a 4 kW(p) system yields approx. 3200 kWh in a year). It could be viewed as an investment hedge against rising electricity prices as you can be fairly certain that your panels will generate every year and that you will earn the feed in tariff which offsets your electricity bills.

    The more electrical appliances you use (when the panels are generating) the better the investment in solar PV works out – electric vehicle owners get to run their cars on sunshine for much of the year! To get the best use of solar PV requires planning and the use of timers. Solar PV also rewards use of energy efficient appliances – you can run more at the same time without drawing from the main.

    The other decision to weigh up is the FiT rate is lower for installations over 4 kW(p) but the cost per kW(p) installed falls with a larger installation, so there's a challenge in finding the optimum installation size.
  • Former_MSE_Andrea
    Options
    At least for the moment I'm enjoying not having the hot water switched on. It's been off for four days :)
    Could you do with a Money Makeover?


    Follow MSE on other Social Media:
    MSE Facebook, MSE Twitter, MSE Deals Twitter, Instagram
    Join the MSE Forum
    Get the Free MoneySavingExpert Money Tips E-mail
    Report inappropriate posts: click the report button
    Point out a rate/product change
    Flag a news story: news@moneysavingexpert.com
  • captainhindsight_2
    captainhindsight_2 Posts: 1,274 Forumite
    edited 27 May 2014 at 3:34PM
    Options
    Could you not upgrade your existing solar thermal panels to current spec seeing as yours are a couple of years old.

    It shouldn't cost too much because it would just be a matter of replacing the panels, all the other work has been done.

    This would mean you would have better panels, and also mean you can start to claim the RHI because it is a new installation that you have paid for.
    "talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish" - Euripides
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,038 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
    Options
    Could you not upgrade your existing solar PV panels to current spec seeing as yours are a couple of years old.


    I take it you mean solar thermal panels?


    Without reading the small print of RHI you would have to get an MCS installer to certify you met the criteria.


    http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generating-energy/Getting-money-back/Renewable-Heat-Premium-Payment-Phase-2
This discussion has been closed.
Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 343.7K Banking & Borrowing
  • 250.3K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 450K Spending & Discounts
  • 235.9K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 609K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 173.3K Life & Family
  • 248.5K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.9K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards