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Solar Panels

With the benefit of our experience and research to date we want to encourage people in Henley to consider installing PV Solar Panels to reduce carbon emissions and take advantage of the new feed in tariffs (FIT) which provide a good financial return.

We would like to get a buying co-operative together to order bulk installations and gain a reasonable discount. If you are interested in the possibility of installing PV on your roof and would like to find out more then contact Peter Stone to find out when our next meeting will be held.

Reducing Carbon Emissions by Installation of Solar Panels

PV panels produce electricity which is either used in the house for any requirements at the time or put back into the National Grid; (they should not be confused with water heating panels which heat water for the domestic water system (not central heating)).

The main requirement for solar panels is a sloping unshaded south-facing roof - though there are other approaches possible if your property doesn't have this.

The panels need to be installed (and connected to the grid) by a qualified person; installation takes about 2 days.

The cost varies according to the size of the installation, the type of panels, (there are a number of slightly differing types which vary in cost up to c 20% - it is outside the scope of this paper to discuss the technical differences / advantages of various types). Typical cost of a system for an average size house with a system producing a maximum of 2kw per hour would be about £ 11,500; this is fully inclusive of VAT (at 5%), the initial survey, all installation work, scaffolding, connection to the grid, provision of a total generation meter. A system producing a maximum output of 2 kw per hour would expect to produce about 1850 kwh pa. and save 1050 kg of CO2 pa.

Return on investment
Although most people will install solar panels to reduce carbon emissions rather than as an investment it is important, when such large sums of money are involved, to understand that a good return can be achieved. The present FIT (feed in tariff) provides for electricity companies to pay 41.3 p per kilo watt hour of electricity produced by the system whether you use it yourself or export it to the grid; in addition most companies will pay an additional 3p per kwh exported back to the grid and you will also save the cost of what you would have paid your electricity company in respect of the amount you produced from the system and used yourself.

PV Tiles built into a roof

On a flat roof

On top of an extension

Even on the ground.


On the basis of a 2kw system as referred to above the annual return would look something like –

Total generated
£ 764
£ 33
Saved on own usage
750 kwh
£ 82
Total return
£ 879

Increasing the number of panels (roof size allowing) to a 3 kw system would reduce the cost per panel by about 10% and hence improve the rate of return.

NB - the FIT rates are subject to inflation increases.

If you borrowed the money from the bank the pay back period would vary dependent on the interest rate. At present there are no special loan schemes available for the acquisition of solar panels. (The previous grants which were available have now been withdrawn.)

Planning Permission
Planning permission may be required if you live in a conservation area; the local council will advise.

It is advisable that your house is insulated up to current standards before considering solar panels since this will cost less (in some cases it can be done free) and this will provide an even more immediate return on your money.

Bulk Discount
If sufficient Henley people are interested then it may be possible to get a discount for a number of people signing up to one contractor. In any case it would be advisable to get two or three quotes and also references from people who have had systems installed since there are some “cowboys” around.

Further information can be found from –

Centre for Alternate Technology ( CAT) Choosing Solar Electricity Brochure

Feed In Tariffs (FIT)

Energy Saving Trust

Peter Stone
July 2010

Peter Stone’s personal experience

I had photo voltaic (PV) solar panels installed on my house in Whitchurch Hill at the beginning of October 2009.

I have a house which has an ideal south facing roof; the roof is quite big so we decided to go for the maximum number of panels that could be accommodated ie 14 panels each producing a maximum of 215w – a total of 3.01 kw. (In fact we had water heating panels installed at the same time in addition to the pv system.)

The total cost of the pv system was £ 16,254; I used a company called Chelsfield Solar for the PV panels after getting an alternative quote for a similar installation which was more expensive.

I have entered into a contract with Ecotricity (who have in any case been my electricity supplier for a few years) for the application of FITs wef 1st April 2010. (Between October 2009 and March 2010 the payment system was less generous but all installations since 15 July 2009 are entitled to benefit from the FIT wef April.) We were fortunate enough to also receive a grant of £2500 from the Energy Saving Trust but these are no longer available.

With the maximum output at 3kw it was estimated by Chelsfield that we would produce a total of 2,800 kwh pa. For the nine months to 7th July the system has so far produced 2050 kwh; obviously more electricity is produced in the sunnier summer months and I believe we will exceed that target of 2,800 kwh; ( it has been quite a “good” summer).

The following figures show what would be obtained under the new FIT system for a whole year based on our actual figures for 9 months plus an estimate of the last quarter –

Total generated
3100 kwh
£ 1280
1900 kwh
£ 57
Saved on own usage
1250 kwh
£ 143
Total return
£ 1480

Total generated 3,100kwh @ 41.3p 1280
Exported 1,900kwh @ 3p 57
Saved on own usage 1,250 kwh @ 11.5p 143
Total return 1480

We reckon to save 1700 kg of CO2 emissions in the year and will have exported more electricity to the grid than we have taken down. (Unfortunately this does not make us carbon neutral since we still have to use oil for heating and some hot water in the winter).

I am not an expert, especially on the technical side, but would be happy to try to answer any questions anyone may have. I would also be happy for anyone to visit our installation at Whitchurch Hill.

Peter Stone

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