One of the things which sometimes puts people off solar panel installations is that the solar cells could ruin the look of their roof. Although for most people the benefits of producing their own energy for free, and of helping the environment by reducing carbon emissions, will outweigh any aesthetic concerns. However in the future this might not even be an issue at all because scientists in California have now developed a near-transparent solar cell so at some point it might be that solar energy could be produced practically invisibly.
New Solar Energy Technology
The way that solar power is created at present is with the use of silicon, a semiconductor which releases electrons when photons (packets of light) hit it. The new material used by the Californian scientists is called PSC and absorbs, for the most part, infra-red rather than visible light. That is why they are mostly see-through. Instead of a mineral, these solar cells are made from photo-active plastic.
There are more potential benefits to this new solar energy technology than simply its transparency though. With its being made out of plastic, that brings the cost of production down significantly. It could, potentially, be mass produced relatively cheaply and therefore sold to a greater number of people.
This is not actually the first time that this sort of technology has been produced, but the problem has always been that either the material has been hardly transparent at all or else had very little efficiency.
Indeed, efficiency is still one of the main problems with solar energy across the whole field. Even with the solar panels which are used now, their efficiency is still less than 30%. Now that’s not actually as bad as it sounds since we don’t have to provide the input energy, so when you’re getting something from nothing you really can’t complain too much. The only problem is that it stretches the financial feasibility.
If they can produce transparent solar cells that are made out of plastic, and can reach anywhere near the efficiency of the solar cells that are used at the moment then there is likely to be a natural boom in solar energy UK production. What the feed in tariff experiment has shown is that there is definitely a demand for solar power in the UK, the only factor that is holding people back is the cost. If that can be brought down then solar cells are likely to become an extremely common sight… or common fixture at least.
Solar Energies UK
While there is always hope for new transformative technology in the future, when it comes to solar energy it’s best to get involved as soon as you can. The cost of solar panel installations are not as high as they used to be and with conventional energy prices rising all the time it’s never too soon to look in to a solar installation. Also, while the rate of the feed in tariff has been reduced, you can still get additional payments for all of the energy that you produce with your solar modules. For more information you can get an information pack and free quote by calling Solar Energies UK on our freephone number.
Since the reduction in the feed in tariff (FiT) rate last year, which pays you a certain amount for each unit of energy you produce with solar panels, it has been feared that solar energy, UK based, is no longer a viable financial investment. However, while it is certainly true that making a profit will take longer with a lower FiT rate, certain factors continue to make a solar panel installation worth considering.
Reduced Solar Panel Installation Costs
The costs of having solar panels installed continues to come down. The technology and manufacturing processes are improving, and the result is that it now costs less than it used to to have solar cells put on your roof. This therefore reduces the amount of time that it takes to make a profit from your solar modules, while at the same time reducing the initial outlay of course, making it a financial possibility for increasing numbers of people.
Of course this does mean that if you wait ten years to get a solar panel installation you’re likely to get it cheaper, but then you are also delaying how long it will take to begin making savings on your energy bills and to begin to see profits on your investment.
Increasing Conventional Energy Prices
Sometimes renewable energy is referred to as free energy, because once you have everything set up you get the energy for free. While that’s true of course, the cost of getting everything set up has to be taken in to account as well. And as we have seen, those costs are coming down. The advantage of using conventional energy from a centralised power station is that it doesn’t cost you anything to set up, but it does cost you to actually use the energy that is provided. The upshot being of course that when you are considering switching to a renewable source of energy, such as solar energy, you have to take in to account the cost of conventional energy as well.
It has been widely reported that conventional energy prices have been going up in recent years, and the indications are that they will continue to do so. The UK now imports more energy than it exports, which means that prices are likely to continue to rise even more. What this means for solar power is that every time you get energy from your solar panels for free, you will in effect be saving more and more as the cost of conventional energy continues to increase.
New Solar Energy UK Farms
As evidence that there is still a definite financial incentive to producing solar power, a 224 acre site has been proposed for a new solar farm in Cornwall, which would contain around 135,000 solar panels. This would make it the largest solar park in the UK. Clearly then, there is still a financial up side to solar energy UK production.
Solar Energies UK
If you’d like to learn more about the financial and practical viability of a solar panel installation for your home (or business) then get in touch on our freephone number and get a free quote and information pack.
As was noted in the previous article, the amount of renewable energy, and in particular solar energy, increased in 2011. At the same time, overall demand for energy fell, in real terms by 6.9% on the year before. To some extent this will have been down to greater energy efficiency across the country, but it didn’t hurt that we had a lot of warm weather (meaning less heating was necessary).
Is the Plan Working?
These figures suggest that the plan to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, and especially those that come from abroad, is working. However, although the numbers certainly are encouraging and 2011 was a good year for the environment in the UK, it also saw a somewhat worrying development as well. Since 1974 the UK has exported more energy than it imported. That ended in 2011.
Now, on the face of it there is nothing particularly worrying about that. It doesn’t really matter from where in the world we get our energy from. Certainly the environment doesn’t distinguish between the pollution caused by burning oil from the UK and that from Norway. However, one of the reasons, apart from the environmental concerns, that there is a drive for more renewable energy production in the UK is to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. This makes sense in terms of energy security, but also simply in terms of the energy it takes to transport anything large distances.
Solar Energy UK
What bearing does any of this have on solar energy UK production? For the most part it simply makes it even more important that solar power, as well as other sources of renewable energy such as heat pumps, continue to grow in this country. The growth in the renewable energy sector which we saw in 2011 needs to continue, and whether that happens or not is going to be in large part due to the choices that individuals make.
Solar Panel Installations
The great thing about solar power is that it doesn’t have to be centralised, it doesn’t take businessmen making the decision that it is going to be profitable to build a solar energy park for it to be utilised. Those are built of course, and they are very useful. However you don’t have to simply wait and hope that a solar park will be built in your vicinity before you get involved in the green energy revolution. If you have a roof that isn’t north facing and isn’t covered in shade then you can play your part and get a solar panel installation yourself. With conventional energy prices rising all the time, and the feed in tariff scheme (whereby you are paid for solar energy production) it makes financial sense as well.
Here at Solar Energies UK we are proud to be doing our part, providing the opportunity for individuals to get a solar panel installation at the lowest possible prices. As well as photovoltaic solar panels, which provide you with solar electricity, we also provide solar thermal installations and heat pumps. If you would like more information, to find out if any of these options will be viable for your property, please feel free to get in touch and we will provide you with a free quote and info pack.
When it comes to matters of the environment, a lot of the time it feels like there is nothing that we, as individuals, can do. It is as if we have started massive worldwide machinery and now we can’t turn it off because we need it for our survival, but at the same time it is contributing to the eventual destruction of the environment in which we live.
However it is not true that there is nothing that we can do to stop this. We don’t need to shut down economic activity, all we need to do is switch over to renewable forms of energy instead of burning fossil fuels for our energy. There has been a question, however, regarding whether we will ever be able to produce enough renewable energy to satisfy all of our demands for energy.
Solar Energy UK Boom in 2011
There is some good news in that regard because 2011 saw a massive increase in the level of renewable energy production, in particular from solar energy. In 2010 only 6.8% of energy in the UK came from renewable sources but in 2011 it was up to 9.4%. That is a mammoth increase in just a single year, and if it were to continue then in the lifetime of most people alive today we would be able to get the majority of our energy from renewable resources.
That vast increase in just a year came from, predominantly, a 12-fold increase in the production of solar energy. Some of this came from the introduction of industrial scale projects but a lot of it came from individuals making the decision to get solar panels installed on their own roof.
Money V Environment?
For a long time it has been the case that you have to decide whether you want to get something cheaply or in an environmentally friendly way. That poses a serious problem for a lot of people who simply cannot afford to pay the extra money, even if they care deeply about the environment.
In terms of solar energy, however, this all changed when the government introduced the feed in tariff which paid you money for the electricity you produced with your solar panels. You still have to pay the upfront cost for the installation, but you could make your money back in around 10 years and then make profits on the energy that you produced, all the while caring for the environment.
Unfortunately the government has now reduced the rate of the feed in tariff, meaning that it is not as profitable as it was before. However it still makes solar panel installations a viable investment, especially if you want to be a part of the green energy revolution which will be essential to the future happiness of countless generations to come.
If you’re interested in getting a solar panel installation, get in touch with Solar Energies UK for a free quote and info pack.