A solar system for generating electricity is made up of a set of solar panels on your roof. These solar panels are made up of a series of solar cells which are strung together to create each individual solar panel. The solar cells are principally made from silicon which is the raw material that allows the sunlight to be converted into electricity.
The behaviour of silicon means that solar panels have an optimum operating temperature of approximately 27°C. As the temperature increases beyond 27°C, the performance begins to decrease. This optimum operating temperature is what suits solar technology to the British climate.
Described in another way, it is the same sunlight that allows flowers to grow in Britain, which allows the solar panels to power British homes!
Solar systems have experienced a large price decrease over the past 24 months. There are a number of factors contributing to this…
First of all, the proliferation of the technology is growing rapidly day-by-day and already in many countries such as Germany and Italy, it is a mainstream technology. This growth has led to an increase in supply which has helped bring down the cost.
It is hard to estimate the exact price of a solar system since no two roofs in Britain are the same, but as a guideline, the price for a semi-detached home could range between £10,000 – £15,000 depending on the size of the system and choice of technology used.
As part of the governments’ commitment to accelerating the take up of renewable technology, the UK government pays solar system owners for every kilowatt/hour of electricity they generate. This is a scheme known as the feed-in tariff. Any electricity generated from the solar panels is automatically used by running appliances thereby providing a free source of electricity. The homeowner is also paid for generating this electricity and will receive a payment for each kilowatt/hour that is generated, as well as an additional payment for unused electricity which can be exported to the National Grid for others to use.
These payments will continue for 25 years. These payments together with the savings from the free electricity allow solar system purchasers to recuperate the investment they have made into the solar system. On average, a solar system owner will recuperate their investment in 7-8 years, so the remainder of the 25 years is a period for their solar system to generate an additional income. This is a tax free income.