A solar array installed at Slepe Farm near Poole was opened yesterday, it’s 1,100 ground mounted solar panels enough to provide solar energy for 100 homes. This will be one of the last projects to get the higher rate of the feed in tariff for larger arrays, at the moment at just over 30p per kWh. It is expected that the rates will be cut drastically in October for these sorts of projects.
Feed In Tariff
It’s important to note that the feed in tariff is not set to be reduced significantly for smaller installations, the kind that people can get for their homes. In fact it is because the government wants individuals to be able to make the most use of the feed in tariff that the rate is being reduced for larger arrays.
The most that you can get through the feed in tariff for solar panels for your home is currently 43.3p, and once you are on that rate it will remain the same. Actually, it will increase on a yearly basis so as to keep in line with inflation. However the starting rate for this sort of installation is also set to be reduced in the near future, the reason for that being that the government wants to encourage people to get solar installations as soon as possible.
It is also important that more solar farms are built as well though. That’s because not everyone can afford a solar installation in the first place. For people who can’t afford the installation costs, the only way to be able to use solar energy is going to be through getting it from the larger solar arrays. That way they can purchase the energy in the same way as they do from conventional suppliers.
When the feed in tariff was first introduced, there were a lot of plans in the works from solar energy companies who wanted to make use of it. Some are already up and running, but there is now unlikely to be the “solar rush” that was forecast for Cornwall as the feed in tariff is not going to be anywhere near as high for the larger arrays.
In the end though, this shouldn’t make much difference to the amount of solar energy which is produced due to the introduction of the feed in tariff. It’s a limited fund, as it has to be, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s produced by companies looking to make a profit, or by individuals. Ideally it would be best if it was open to both equally, but if a decision has to be made then it doesn’t really matter which way it goes.
That is, in terms of the amount of solar energy produced, and as regards the benefits to the economy it doesn’t matter. It is obviously more advantageous to individuals that the fund is being made available to them rather than the solar companies.
Solar Energy UK
If you are interested in getting an installation of solar panels for your home, get in touch with Solar Energy UK for a free quote. By using our MCS accredited solar installers you will qualify for the feed in tariff.
A man from Marlow has been in the news recently because he has reached 10,000 kWh of electricity produced by his solar panels, which he had installed 4 years ago. He is a very good example of the sort of person who would use solar energy before the feed in tariff was introduced, and so a good way of measuring how things have changed.
Solar Energy Costs
Four years ago, in 2007, the solar energy system cost this man living in Marlow £13,000. Without knowing exactly how many, and what type of solar panels that he got it is not possible to say whether or not it would be more or less today. It’s likely that it would be a bit less, despite the effects of inflation, because of the advancements in production techniques.
In this time he has generated 10,000 kWh of electricity, and this has made him £1,000. Now, it is clear to see why it is that not many people were getting solar panels 4 years ago, because you were getting a very small return on your investment. Only making £1,000 after 4 years, having spent £13,000, is not good. These days, with the feed in tariff, with a system costing that much you should be making over £1,000 every year.
Indeed, if you had solar panels installed at the highest rate you can get the feed in tariff for now, which is 43.3p, then by the time you had generated 10,000 kWh of solar electricity, you would have made £4,330. That is why you no longer have to be “green” to make use of solar energy.
For the man from Marlow though, it was never about the money. He likens it to a decision between getting a sports car or a boat, or having solar panels installed. That was the big problem back then, that is exactly the sort of decision that had to be made. That is, the solar panels had to be treated as a consumer item, something that you enjoyed using, rather than as an investment that was going to save and make money for you.
Of course the big problem with that paradigm is not so much that the people who have the money to buy a boat are usually going to prefer to do that rather than have solar panels installed (although that certainly is an issue). The big problem, of course, is that most people cannot afford to get a sports car or a boat anyay!
Investment in Solar Energy
That is still something of a problem, not everyone can afford a solar installation even now. However it is not as bad as it was because now it can be treated as an investment, and one that you’re pretty much certain to make your money back on. This should not be taken as financial advice of course, but when you are only relying on the sun coming up each morning for the investment to be a sound one, it’s difficult to go wrong. Crucially this means that people are not really losing any money, or they shouldn’t be, in the long term. Actually in the long term they should be making money, so it’s not like buying a boat or car anymore, you don’t have to be “green,” you can just be looking for a good investment opportunity.
Solar Energy UK
If you would like to find out more about getting solar panels for your home, and to get a free quote on a solar installation, get in touch with Solar Energy UK now.
The main focus in the development of solar energy is increasing the efficiency of solar panels. That is really the only thing that is holding it back from already being much more widely used by homes and businesses. That’s why it’s good news that Schott Solar has been able to make a monocrystalline solar panel which has an efficiency of 20.2%.
Is 20.2% Efficiency High?
This is all relative of course, as to whether around 20% efficiency is high or not. For most systems, it would be low. And indeed, solar cells have been produced which have much larger efficiencies. However, they were not meant for commercial use.
When it comes to commercial solar panels that ordinary people will be able to buy, anywhere around 20% is high. Somewhere around 15% is average.
Are They Available Yet?
This is just a recent announcement from Schott Solar, declaring what they have been able to achieve. They have not produced any actual solar modules using the new production techniques which provide solar panels with this high efficiency.
However, Solar Energy UK does offer the installation of solar panels with a high efficiency already, they are the Sanyo HIT solar panels. What makes them more efficient is the fact that they have a thin layer of amorphous silicon sandwiching the crystalline silicon, which makes them more efficient because means there is less energy lost on the surface.
What Is Silicon?
Silicon is a semiconductor, it’s the substance that makes it possible to create solar energy. One of the most important features of semiconductors, certainly in the production of solar power, is that when light hits them it causes electrons to move. Since electricity requires, or actually it is, the flow of electrons, without being able to use a substance with this quality creating solar energy would be a lot more difficult. It certainly couldn’t be done with solar panels on a roof.
There are a number of forms that the silicon can come in though. As mentioned, there is the crystalline and the amorphous. Generally it’s the crystalline form which is used though because although the amorphous form is better at retaining efficiency on the surface, overall it is much less efficient.
The crystals can be formed in two ways. Either singly, grown to a large size and then cut to order (this is the case with the monocrystalline solar panels), or else lots are grown together in a space that is the right size for a solar module. These are the polycrystalline solar panels.
Traditionally speaking, the “monos” are more efficient but also more expensive, whereas the “polys” are less expensive but at the same time they are less efficient. Although this is still somewhat true today, the gaps have been closed to a great degree so that there is now little difference between them.
Solar Energy UK
If you are interested in getting a solar installation of solar panels for your roof, then get in touch with Solar Energy UK for a free quote. By using our MCS accredited solar installers you will also qualify for the feed in tariff, a lucrative financial incentive from the government.
The concept has been around for a little while now, but Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. are the first company to come up with a prototype for spray-on solar cells. The idea is that they can be applied to anything, the same way that paint is, and they can create solar energy. They say that it will work best on curved structures, such as chimneys, but also that if sprayed on to a car they will generate enough power to run them (it would have to be an electric car of course).
How Does It Work?
The way that solar panels work at the moment is that you have crystalline silicon, a semiconductor which creates electricity when light hits it, in a large box. These are the sorts of solar panels that you can put on your roof. The spray-on solar cells are very different of course.
These new solar cells are able to use the properties of carbon compounds, which act as semiconductors, creating solar energy, when they have dried and solidified. As mentioned, the ease with which they can be applied, as well as the fact that they are very light, means that they can be put anywhere. Even on clothes.
The problem with the technology at the moment, however, is that it is still too inefficient. The solar cells have an efficiency rating of about 10%, whereas the normal solar panels that we use can be around 20% efficient. However the developers are working on this, and think that they can get the efficiency up to 15% by 2015, and eventually up to the standard 20%.
This development goes to show just how versatile solar energy can be. It has always had that in its favour, being able to power large arrays, to single properties, to even pocket electrical devices like calculators. If this spray-on technology takes on, then there is literally going to be no limit to what can be powered by the Sun.
Paper Thin Solar Panels
The result of using spray-on solar panels will be that they are less than 1mm thick, much more flexible and versatile than what we have now. Mitsubishi Chemical is not the only company working on making solar panels more flexible though, scientists in Australia and Italy are collaborating in order to produce paper-thin solar panels of their own.
In their design, they will use printable-laser technology to get nano-particles on to panels, and these will also be able to generate solar energy just about anywhere. In the future, for example, we may be able to get solar panels to stick on to our windows or on to our walls, meaning they could literally be used by anyone who owns a property.
Solar Energy UK
At the moment though, all of this is very much in the future, the best you can do right now is get the current solar panels for your home. If you are interested in that possibility, get in touch with Solar Energy UK for a free quote. Maybe by the time their 25 year life span is up, you’ll be able to replace them with a simple spray.
In the last few days a story has come to light of a 13 year old boy called Aiden Dwyer who seemed to have come up with a way of arranging solar panels so that they become over 50% more efficient than the conventional ones that we have now. This would be a massive breakthrough in the field of solar energy, as it is the relatively low efficiency of solar panels, as compared to fossil fuels, which has been what has held it back from taking over entirely from non-renewable energy production.
The “Eureka” Moment
Dwyer had his “eureka” moment when he was out in a wood, looking at trees. He noticed the way that the bark spiralled around trees (in a pattern described by the Fibonacci sequence) and this made him wonder what the effect would be if solar cells were arranged in a similar way.
He did an experiment, and seemed to find that they would be 50% more efficient. This story has a sort of fairy-tale feel about it, an important discovery made by a bright young mind uncorrupted by conventional thinking. That it was inspired by nature is so much the better, as many of the practical technologies that we have now have been inspired by the way that the natural world solves problems.
However, the unfortunate thing about reality is that it rarely works in the same way that a fairy tale does, and it seems that such is the case here as well.
Does It Really Work?
Although everyone recognises that this is a very intelligent boy and the design and experiment is extremely impressive, upon detailed investigation in to the experiment, experts have shown that it is not what it first seemed.
The biggest problem, it seems, is that the efficiency was measured by the voltage alone, and not by the actual power output. In fact though, the voltage doesn’t really tell us anything about how much solar energy can actually be produced. And upon analysis, the experts suggest that it would not actually have shown a large output.
It seems, therefore, that this “breakthrough” is not actually going to work. Although it was conceded that, in the morning, the arrangement would increase efficiency somewhat. However it is in the afternoon that much of the solar energy is produced, and then it would not be effective.
Solar Power Developments
If nothing else, however, this story should remind us that we really don’t know everything, and that when new, bright minds work on a problem, it’s possible that they will come up with new, inventive solutions.
Indeed this is happening in the solar energy field more than in just about any other right now. There are more and more ideas about how solar power can be generated, and how it can be used to solve our energy problems. They might not always work, but as long as we keep looking, the developments will keep coming.
Solar Energy UK
At the moment, the best thing you can do regarding solar power is get solar panels for your home, and we can help. Get in touch for a free quote on a solar installation from our MCS accredited solar installers.
While the main focus of solar energy production is on the environmental effects, as it should be, it’s also a good idea to think about the economic angle as well. So for example, a joint venture between the local council and E.On is going to have 4,000 new solar panels installed on the roofs of council properties in Stoke-on-Trent. This is going to cut carbon emissions and reduce energy bills, but it is also going to create around 100 jobs.
The Green Economy
If as a country, or as a planet really, we are going to avoid the worst effects of global warming, then we are going to have to run our economy with clean, renewable sources of energy like solar energy. This means that houses are going to have to have more solar panels installed, as are businesses. And in order for all of this to happen, there are going to have to be more people making and installing solar panels.
There are all sorts of jobs connected with having solar panels installed. For example, there’s the installers themselves, but also electricians, roofers, scaffolders, delivery drivers, team leaders and so on. That’s not even to mention the factory workers that are going to make the solar panels.
For large projects like the one in Stoke then, there are going to be job opportunities for lots of these sorts of people. And it certainly is a large job, it is going to cost £4m, and there should be in excess of 8,000 solar panels installed.
The more people that are in the green sector of the economy, particularly the more solar energy companies, the more business they will be looking to generated. This should lead to more solar installations, a greater supply of solar installers and so therefore a higher supply. This should lead to lower costs, and therefore a higher demand. In this way, the green sector should grow.
Will it Help the Economy?
When it comes to the economy as a whole, however, it is more complicated as regards whether it is going to help to have more emphasis on solar energy. You could say, from one point of view, that it is certainly going to help to the extent that global warming could make it impossible to have an economy at all if all in the future of the dire predictions come true.
If we stick to the present though, it is questionable whether it is going to help or not. When the government spends money, that is money that they take from other people, through taxes, and this stimulates certain areas. However, if people were allowed to spend the money themselves, other areas would be stimulated and it would create the same amount of economic activity. It is also not certain whether jobs created through government money are sustainable since they will go away if the government pulls the funding.
On the whole then, it probably does not benefit the economy as a whole. However it is so important that we actually deal with global warming that the government investing in solar energy is still probably a good idea.
Solar Energy UK
If you would like a free quote for solar panels on your roof, get in touch with Solar Energy UK for today.
There has been a lot of news recently about transport powered by solar energy. From the race between cars powered by solar panels which is to be held in Australia in October, to Ford making electric cars which can be powered with solar panels on the roof of your house. And not to forget the solar boat that could pave the way for solar-powered merchant shipping in the future.
More innovative and exciting than any of those innovations, however, is the recent announcement of solar roads being in development. In fact, they are in the second stage of testing now.
The idea is that the roads themselves are going to be able to generate solar energy. There is a very obvious problem with that of course; if you simply took the solar panels off your roof and drove across them then they would break. It’s necessary that the solar panels for the road be made of glass though because it has to be transparent so that the light can get through to the silicon underneath which generates the solar power (unfortunately we don’t have transparent aluminium yet!).
However they have already solved this problem, they have a type of glass which is not only strong enough but gives the same traction as asphalt does now. After all it would be just as problematic if cars were sliding all over the place. There is also a plan to use rubbish from landfill sites in order to provide an internal support system.
So far the company, Solar Roadways, have a prototype that is 12ft x 12ft and has 6000 LEDs embedded in it. This will allow for road markings to be placed on the road. The prototype has been tested and creates 7.6 kWh per day. If this were expanded to all roads of course, that would be an awful lot of solar energy being produced.
What To Do With The Solar Energy From Roads?
What could be done with all of this solar power though? Well first of all there are the basic things that road maintenance requires. For example, it could power heaters which could melt snow when it falls on it.
It doesn’t have to just be just connected to things to do with the roads though, if installed on private property then it could go towards powering a house or business. If it’s a public road it could go straight on to the National Grid.
It’s even possible that it could be used to power electric cars. In fact soon there is going to be a test for racing cars whereby electricity is transmitted to the cars wirelessly, which means they will not have to stop. Theoretically the same sort of thing could be done on all roads, and the power could come from the solar panels in the roads themselves.
Solar Energy UK
All of this is still a long way off of course, at the moment the best way that you can get involved with solar energy is by getting solar panels for your home. For more information and to get a free quote, get in touch with Solar Energy UK today.
What solar energy describes is the energy that comes from the sun, and can be converted to something useful. Not to say that the heat in itself is not useful, it’s what allows us to live on this planet without freezing to death! In this sense however, “useful” is meant in terms of being able to be used for something else, like electricity or a hot water system.
And there’s a very good reason that we should use solar energy in this way, rather than conventional forms of energy like fossil fuels. That’s because, for one, fossil fuels are going to run out one day (they’re non-renewable) whereas we’re always going to be getting energy from the sun (and when we’re not, not being able to power our televisions will be the least of our worries). So this is a renewable form of energy that will not run out. Perhaps even more importantly though, it is clean, meaning that it does not cause any carbon emissions that lead to the excessive warming of the Earth, a process known as global warming.
It’s for this reason that the government has introduced financial incentives in order to encourage, and enable, more people to get involved with solar energy by getting solar panels for their home.
What are the Financial Incentives?
As mentioned, there are two main ways of using solar power, one is to generate electricity and the other is for a solar hot water system. Each of these has their own financial incentives, but they work in much the same way.
The feed in tariff (FiT) applies to the PV solar panels which create electricity. For every unit of electricity that you produce with your solar cells, you will be paid a certain amount. How much depends on the size and type of system that you have, but at the moment the maximum amount is 43.3p per kWh. For an average system this usually translates to £1,000 a year.
The renewable heat incentive (RHI) works in the same way, although you are paid for renewable heat energy generated of course, rather than electrical energy. This is a scheme that is not yet in effect, but will become available for households next year.
All of the money that you get through financial incentives for solar energy comes completely tax free. Also, you can be assured that whatever brand you start on will retain its purchasing power because it tracks the retail price index (RPI) which monitors inflation.
It should also be noted, however, that for new users the maximum amount you can get is set to be reduced each year in order to encourage immediate uptake. Once you have started at a certain rate, however, that’s what you will stay on.
Solar Energy UK
To be eligible for these financial incentives you have to use MCS accredited installers for your solar installation, like the ones provided by Solar Energy UK. Get in touch for more information and to get a free quote.
There are two general sorts of solar energy panels that you can choose to have installed, those that create electricity (PV solar panels) and those that create heat for a solar hot water system (solar thermal panels). They are both excellent ways of cutting your carbon footprint and reducing energy costs significantly.
They also have government financial incentives attached to them, the feed in tariff for PV panels which is active now, and the renewable heat incentive for solar hot water systems which will become available to businesses this year, and to households late next year. To be eligible for these schemes you will have to get your solar installation performed by MCS accredited installers, like those provided by Solar Energy UK.
PV Solar Panels
There are a number of different models of solar panels for electricity production, and at Solar Energy UK we install three of the best, most reliable kinds. They are Sanyo (HIT), Schott and Hyundai.
The Sanyo (HIT) solar modules are the most efficient because they use a thin layer of amorphous silicon on the surface which greatly reduces the amount of efficiency that is usually lost at the surface of a solar panel.
The Schott solar panels have proven reliability because they are made by one of the most experienced solar companies, Schott Solar. That’s a German engineering company which provides power for over 300 satellites in space with its solar panels.
Finally there is Hyundai, a well-known technology company which is most famous for its cars but which is also prolific in the number of solar panels that it produces every year. These are the cheapest ones that are offered by Solar Energy UK and are great value for money.
The Schott and Hyundai solar panels come in two general forms, either monocrystalline (mono) or polycrystalline (poly). This describes the form of the silicon crystal which generates the solar energy. With the mono’s it is a single crystal which has been cut to the right size. With the poly’s it’s lots of crystals grown together.
Traditionally speaking, the mono’s are more efficient and also more expensive, while the poly’s are less efficient but also less expensive. However, with advances in the production process there is now very little difference between them.
Solar Thermal Panels
There are also two general types of hot water solar panels. There’s the flat-panel solar collectors and also evacuated-tube solar collectors.
The most efficient are the evacuated-tube variety because they have the absorber plate, which absorbs the heat from the sun, running all the way around the tube (of which there are several placed side by side). This means that it doesn’t matter at what angle the sun hits them, it will be just as good at generating heat.
The flat-panel solar panels, however, are a little bit cheaper but not as efficient. They have the absorber plate running along the bottom, and the pipes either carrying the water itself to be heated or a heat transfer substance which will then to go to heat the water.
Solar Energy UK
If you are interested in getting solar energy panels of either type installed on your roof, get in touch for a free quote on a solar installation from the expert installers we provide.
One of the biggest problems in terms of switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is that of transport. That’s because most renewable resources have to be gathered in a stationary location, and there’s no way of creating a fuel that can be used in individual vehicles the way that we can with oil. Fortunately though, that’s not the case with solar energy. Not that a fuel can be produced, it doesn’t have to be because the solar panels work just as well on moving vehicles (the sun shines everywhere!).
Recently we discussed solar powered cars, both in terms of sporting application and more usefully, for the road. While cars are presently causing a lot of the pollution that leads to global warming, another large problem is boating. Particularly merchant boating, as that is one of the only ways to transport large quantities of goods between land masses. For the UK in particular then, it is particularly important, as we are cut off from everywhere else by the sea.
It is very encouraging news, therefore, that we are seeing solar-powered boats now. Not many, but it is still in its infancy. Recently, however, the world’s biggest solar-powered boat docked in Hong Kong on its round the world tour which started in Monaco nearly a year ago. This is a boat which can carry 50 passengers, so it’s not as big as the current cruise liners but it’s not that small either.
The owner of this 100ft long Catamaran said there is “huge potential” for boats powered by solar energy. The most important thing, of course, is that it actually works, and that is clear from the fact that it has been at sea since last September. Also, as there are no fuelling costs, it could become a relatively cheap option soon (especially with conventional fuel costs rising so sharply).
Of course it is not the tourist industry that is the biggest concern here, it is merchant shipping, which is responsible for 4.5% of the carbon emissions every year. If merchant ships can be designed which are powered by solar energy, then that will be a massive step towards a sustainable global transport system.
Solar Panels for Your Home
That is all something that is going to have to be worked out on an industrial level though. What can be done on an individual scale is getting solar panels for your home. Not everyone is in a position to do that of course, either because of the direction their roofs face or for financial reasons. In terms of finances though, it is now much more viable due to the introduction of the feed in tariff.
If you get solar panels installed by MCS accredited solar installers (like the ones provided by Solar Energy UK) then you can enter the feed in tariff scheme, whereby you will be paid for all of the energy that you produce. At the moment, that is the best that we landlubbers can do to help the environment and keep energy costs down.
Solar Energy UK
If you would like a free quote for a solar installation, get in touch with us for a free solar energy consultation, including a free, no obligation quote for an installation.