How electricians are supporting homeowners with solar

Solar is also the key to sustainable energy supply

Solar is a sustainable and clean energy source

Ask any scientist and they will tell you the 'sun' is an incredible source of energy and with the right technology and connected devices it can provide one of the cleanest and most effective renewable sources of energy readily available. The energy available from the Sun will last sustainably longer relative to human needs than fossil fuels or other less clean and hard to source natural resources. An interesting fact, the energy the sun releases in one hour has the capacity to meet the worlds' global energy demands for one year.

What has caused the shift in homeowners thinking about solar energy as a primary source of energy

As homeowners become more aware of the finite nature of fossil fuels like coal and crude oil, contributes to the increase in carbon in the atmosphere and accelerate global warming and climate change. In a view to leave a sustanable and hbitable planet for their children, and generations to come, looking at alternative forms of sustainable and less harmful energy sources, to provide our energy needs is globally a recognised goal.

as well as our reduced consumption of those energy sources that are harmful. In the developed world, asking if there is more that can be done to switch to using alternative natural energy sources, is begin to become a high priority mandated requirement, and more prevalent as a narrative, supported by governments, media campaigns for awarneess by sustainbale energy interest groups, as well as new and existing sustainable energy providers operating in the market.

This is supported by a collective concern across the world, that the future of the planet as we know it is at risk if we don't move away from fossil based forms o energy, as a matter of urgency.

Any in-action on the part of government, economic intersts and at industrial level, will result in long term damage to the planet, hence whilst green initatives and state sponsored projects to hit emission reduction targets, need to be met, head on, and the use of natural energy sources like the sun, be mafe financially viable, available, accessible and implementable, with the least of friction.

One of these options is solar power, the benefits of harnessing the suns energy to create a renewable energy supply that can power heating and electric, is relatively low risk, high benefitand an investment in the future of the planet.

Solar energy also offers a path to zero carbon net emissions in the supply chain, over the long term,which is better for the environment and creates less dependency on the more damaging and finite resources the are fossil fuels in their nature.

In order to support the transition to solar as a viable source of energy supply, electricians are up-skilling and getting training in understanding, implementing, repairing and maintaining, solar based solutions for domestic use. Not only does this enable electricians to become proficient in creating, installing, supporting, servicing and repairing solar infrastructures, but it helps to future proof the path to sustainable energy supply in the future, as the expertise and knowledge can be learnt, shared and built upone.

What is driving the change to solar

Cost saving

Historically solar energy has been considered expensive and inefficient. However, that view has changed in more recent times, with the lowering of prices through competitive technological developments, marketing and sales strategies as well as solar panel grants, supported by govenrments

The UK government can help with the burden of switching costs for customers

There are also grants available to business as an incentive to develop solutions in the solar energy space, as well as for homeowners looking to switch to solar, the grants are backed by a government which is really improtant to driving innovation and solar adoption in both industry and private establishments.

Consider EU regulation, as it is an EU driven strategy

The Solat initiative in the EU i subject to the larger EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) which requires all member countries to set a strategy to reach a 20% renewables target by 2020. Most countries are not on target to hit this and more is required to be research and understood in order to implement a recovery plan theat is deliverable

This directive would not apply to the UK in the wake of the UK’s departure from the EU, but the continuation of this directive will be subject to the UK government’s view on directive alignment policy cost, feasibility and a strategy shaped around an independent renewable energy policy.

UK government, Let's briefly talk about grants

There are several structures to the grants, there is the Feed in Tariff scheme, this focuses on those estates that generate electricity by solar power or wind turbines. The estates receive an amount of money for any surplus of each unit kilowatt per hour that they return to the grid. Thou the scheme ended in 2019 in the UK, it is still available to those that registered prior to 2019. The scheme lasts for 20 years from the date of registration and is dependent on the type of technology, size of the system in place, and when it was installed. This offers a significant period by which homeowners could make savings on energy bills, as well as contribute to the sustainable energy and planet initative, at an individual level. Investment in solar technology is both financially and beneficial, but also allows homeoweners to make a difference in the bid to save the planet.

Installation of solar panels by sizes

electrician on roof with harness installing solar

Homeowners are required to use a certified electrician installer from a reputable energy provider or registered electrician supplier.

Homeowners need to consider that currently, there are two-sub class of payments

The generation tariff

this is the amount of energy produced and consumed by the home, costs vary between £6.38 and £13.88 per Kwh (kilowatt hour).

The export tariff

Relates to the surplus the homeowner sells, for any energy sold back to the grid, the rate is £4.77 per unit in Kwh.

Since the scheme closed, the Feed in Tariff has been replaced by th SEG (Smart Export Guarantee). The scheme although different at its core, focuses on small-scale low carbon electricity generators to receive payment for any surplus energy sold back to the grid.

One major difference is this scheme is not supported by any government grant; instead it is incumbent upon energy suppliers with an excess of 150,000 customers to offer the SEG service, those that have fewer customers, can opt in, on a voluntary basis.

Homeowners with 5MW (Megawatts) of capacity are eligible for SEG and they are also required to install a smart meter to more accurately measure their KW exports.

Homeowners should consider the installation of solar thermal panels to heat their homes; as part of the (RHI) Renewable Heat Initiative scheme, this is an industrial initiative that was expanded to include domestic properties in 2014. It’s purpose is to enable change in households from traditional renewable heat technologies, to those such as solar thermal panel and biomass boilers.

These solutions offer lower carbon emissions and form part of the strategy to reduce the overall country’s carbon emission in line with the EU target.

Support for the solar programme

It is well documented that current methods of supplying energy are contributing to global climate change, the initiatives to reduce carbon emission require change vehicles, technology enablers and incentives to make homeowners switch, some of which we have discussed aboeve.

It is improtant to note, The RHI is a 7-year support programme with quarterly payments depending on the technology being used and the latest related tariffs. One pre-requisite is the property must have a valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) that must provide an assessment and demonstration of how it could be improved.

Alternative schemes and how they benefit the homeowner

Another popular scheme is the Free Solar Panel scheme, this enables those property owners who cannot afford solar panels to rent out their roof footprint to solar panel companies, these companies would take or the responsibility for installation, maintenance, and repair all for free, i n compensation they would receive a payment called the (FIT) Feed in Tariff, linked to EPC.

As well as this scheme there is the Solar Buyback Scheme. This is a scheme where a lump sum amount from the companies that provide the energy is rebated to the homeowner for the surplus.

With the above scheme it is important to note, that the rebate the customer would typcially receive for the surplas sold back to the company, this is offsert agoant the the cost of leasing the solar panels and managing the solar panels by the company. The company does this by collecting the FIT rebate, which the homeowner would recieve to manage the cost offset.. Homeowners need to research and understand how This scheme would work in relation to their needs, assessing how the lump sum compares to the FIT, is one such consideration. If this scheme works for the property owner. More information can be found at laws on government and solar payment which offer more information on the schemes available and how they operate.

How can homeowners evaluate the benefits

It is also for the homeowner to determine the advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy, as a guide, advantages include, low maintenance costs, varied applications, progressive technology, reduced electric bills and a renewable energy source. The disadvantages include weather, cloudy, overcast could all affect both the amount and the level of energy generation, the cost for a significant roof footprint of solar panels and in-direct pollution.

Maintenance of solar panels - cleaning

In reference to Low maintenance costs this centre's mainly around keeping the panels clean, this should be done a couple of times a year or if they are fouled for some reason. Specialised tradespeople run cleaning companies for solar panels they can charge between £25 and £35 pounds for the service and offer 20 to 25 year warranties.

Maintenance of solar panels - core units and cables

The inverter also know as a solar inverter or PV inverter is an electrical converter, it takes the variable (DC) direct current output from a (PV) photovoltaic solar panel converting it into alternating AC (alternating current) this process utility can supply a commercial electric grid, or be used by local off-grid networks. The inverter needs to be replaced every 4 or 5 years due to the working nature of the device, which results in wear and tear over time. Cables should also be replaced to ensure sustained efficiency

Homeowners should consider, benefits of solar, after the initial outlay, and the running cost over the life of the panel, this is typically less costly for both maintenance and repair.

Solar has other applications also

Solar energy can also be used in solar thermal panels to heat water; it absorbs the heat (via collectors) of the sun via a photo voltage process, takes the heat-transfer fluid (water) to the hot water cylinder, this provides your property with free heated water. PV (photovoltaic) can be used to generate electricity; this not only has domestic applications but has applications where access to power is limited or not possible from the grid, such applications include to distil water in regions with limited clean water supplies.

The big save with solar

With everyone looking to reduce their electric bills and big suppliers monopolizing market rates, through cartel based activities and strategies. Using a solar system will see your electric bills reduced, how much, this will largely depend on the size of your unit, and how you and your household use your electricity. Saving on your energy bill is something everyone would like to do, the benefits of electricity generated by solar power is it is possible to sell the surplus energy back to the grid creating another source of income in the form of a reabate on surplus returned not consumed at source.

Technological developments and innovation in solar

Technological developments in the solar power industry are advancing at quite a pace; one example is Sharp’s ntroduction of transparent solar energy windows. There are also breakthroughs in quantum physics and nanotechnology that when applied to solar technology and devices, increases their effectiveness and capability in power generation.

Solar initial costs

Solar panels can be expensive when initially purchased, the average price of a solar panel system occupying a footprint of 8 meters squared with a system size of 1kW can cost between £1500 and £3000, the upside is there is a £640 pound cumulative potential return (depending on usage and surplus returned) with divisible increments being paid year by year for 20 years.

Challenges with solar installations

Solar panel technology is constantly evolving and improving, and with greater market adoption, and access this is bringing the initial cost down for homeowners. Solar panels require a large footprint of occupancy on a roof, therefore, it may not always be possible to reach your aspirations of an extended footprint beyond what is safe and workable for your property, in instances like this a garden approach can be considered as long as there is sufficient access to sunlight.

Indirect pollution and solar

When we talk about pollution, we know that it is the indirect emission that come in the form of carbon emissions from logistics and transportation of panels, as well as the manufacturing process associated with photovoltaic cell production.

Solar dependency

Solar is dependent on the sun, so if there are a few days of consecutive rain and the weather is overcast, there is a noticeable drop in power generation.

What do customers who use solar say

Lydia from Halesowen used to raise a quote for the installation of solar thermals panel, she say’s was able to let me raise a quote, send it to the marketplace and receive several quotes for electricians and installation specialist around Halesowen, is the best system for managing customer quotes for your projects, in addition the service and quality of work from the tradespeople in the solar installation was outstanding, I’m looking forward to a reduction in my heating and electric bills going forward.

Notes to the blog

Our references at the time of our analysis are based on imformation that at the time of print in the UK we believe to be accurate. Please ensure you refer to the relevant government, business, and partner/affiliate in solar, for you and the country your are considering the solar intiative in, this should form the basis for your information, analysis and decision making. Simply use this blog as a point of reference, and as representing the opinions of others and not that of the government, business and body regulating, or os otherwise associated entities, which may not be described, in this blog, but which are recognised legally to regulate, consult and guide on the solar market in that specific country, region or market.

About the Author

Tom Cakebread
Hi, I'm Tom I enjoy writing about the trades, and supporting tradespeople and customers where I can as an independent consultant.