20 photovoltaic panels with a peak output of 3.7 kW
The principle in the case of this technology is to directly convert the Sun’s energy into electricity using silicon semi-conductor technology. Panels can by quite small (1 metre square) but are modular, such that a very large system of several tens of square metres could be developed. The average system on a house in the UK would be about 4 square metres. The PV panel would normally be connected to the local electricity network and the energy sold to an electricity company to maximise the use of the energy from the panel although you could have a system which allowed you to use all of the energy in your home. An average costing panel will produce about 75w per square metre on a bright day. PV panels like solar thermal panels should be oriented to the south and should not be overshadowed by buildings or trees as this will have a detrimental impact on the output of the system.
When information on PV systems was first published on the website of the Esk Valley Community Energy Group in 2011 Government incentives made them both practical and economic in North Yorkshire. Modular solar panels are put together in arrays, with £10,000 of panels producing 3 kW in strong sunlight and providing a return of £670 per year as estimated by the Energy Savings Trust. Electricity not used can be sold to an electricity company.
Incentives have been reduced many times since 2011, sometimes drastically and sometimes more gradually. Although panels have increased their efficiency and have become considerably cheaper the savings in electricity bills and Feed-in Tariff returns will no longer allow recovery of the financial investment required within a few years as was possible in the past. But if you are prepared to take a long view and do not factor in the cost of the capital required the returns over the 20 year life of the Feed-in Tariff payments will be more than the costs. Very approximate costs and returns for PV panels in the North of England (based on Manchester) are available from the Energy Saving Trust web page Solar Panels. More precise figures for your own location can be found by using the Energy Saving Trust’s Solar Energy Calculator.
Even though the economic returns are not as good as they were there certainly will continue to be a return in terms of carbon saving. Approximate estimates and more precise predictions are available by using the Energy Saving Trust’s web pages Solar Panels and Solar Energy Calculator.
See our page on Financial support for energy saving and generation. The section on that page relevant to this technology is the one on the Feed-in Tariff. The Green Deal may also be relevant as a possible source of loan funding for domestic installations.
Have a look at our information on choosing an installer if you plan to install this technology.
For local case studies that generate photovoltaic electricity follow the links below
Follow this link to return to the page on Renewable Energy Technologies