New government energy security strategy: Solar

Even with the UK's average of 1,493 hours of sunlight every year, solar power is a key part of the government's new energy strategy. 

The UK currently has 14GW of solar capacity and produces 4% of the UK's energy. The government estimates that this capacity could grow up to 5 times by 2035, partly due to their plan to cut VAT on domestic solar panel installations until 2027. Insulation and heat pumps also come under this tax cut. 

To learn more about solar energy and how it's produced, check out our video:


Can I install solar panels onto my property? 

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that there is currently a long waiting list for installations due to the increased demand and shortage of skilled installers. Also, because of the large cost of installation, it is always worth working out how long it would take to see a return on the initial outlay. Depending on how much energy your household actually uses, you might need a smaller array of panels than you initially think.


What about when the Sun doesn't shine? 

The photovoltaic cells that make up solar panels work on cloudy days, they just produce less electricity. It's a bit like a dimmer switch on a light; the light is still on, but if you dim it down, it is less intense. That means on cloudy days and at night, you will need to draw (and pay for) power from the National Grid instead of using your own power. 

If you wanted to avoid this, you could install your own solar panel battery system. These can cost a few £1000, depending on the capacity and type, but it does mean that you could store the energy you produce during the day to use at night. 

Of course, if you also own an electric car that has vehicle to load capabilities, it won't be long before your car can act as your 'battery' storage. It means you could charge your car from the solar energy you produce during the day and use the energy in your car battery at night to power your home. 

Will I see a reduction in my energy bills? 

If you install solar panels onto your property, you will see an immediate reduction in your energy bill. How much will depend on the number and type of panels you install. Of course, it will be a number of years before this reduction off-sets the initial cost of installing them in the first place. 


How expensive are solar panels to install? 

Prices of renewables have been consistently decreasing, with the price of residential roof top solar panels are now less than 50% the price they were a decade ago. Also, the government have announced a tax cut on the installation of solar panels until 2027, making now the cheapest time to buy them. 

The problem is that they are still quite expensive, with a single panel costing between £300 and £500. The price varies on the number of panels, type of panels, how long it takes to install them and whether you add solar battery to store the power you create. 

In the end, a typical installation will cost a few thousand pounds. It is therefore very important to work out the savings you could make on the different panel options and consider how much energy your household uses, before choosing the right set-up for your situation.


How long do solar panels last? 

Most manufacturers will guarantee their solar panels for about 20-25 years. With no maintenance costs apart from keeping them clean, once they are installed, solar really does just keep on giving.


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