rgi solar logo
28 Cutlers Road
Saltcoats Industrial Estate
South Woodham Ferrers
Chelmsford
Essex
CM3 5XJ
Tel :     01245 320454
email :   enquiries@rgisolar.co.uk
 
Contact Us

FAQs

How does Solar PV work?

What is the feed-in tariff scheme?

How do feed-in tariffs work?

How much will I get paid?

What is the future of feed-in tariffs?

Will solar power substitute my utility bills?

How much electricity will it actually produce?

How much space will I need?

What other requirements are there before you can consider installing Solar Power?

Would the installation cause any disruption to me and my property?

How long will it take to install?

Do I need planning permission?

What happens if I move house?

Do Solar arrays require a lot of maintenance?

Does a Solar PV installation come with any warranties?

How much does it cost?

 

How does Solar PV work?

Each Solar module/panel is made up of solar cells which are composed of semi-conducting materials. Each PV cell generates energy from the absorption of daylight causing a flow of electrons which in turns produces electricity. Only a small amount of electricity is produced from a single cell so many cells are connected to form a solar panel. Multiple panels are then joined together to produce what is known as a PV array.

PV arrays are rated in peak watts (Wp) which is identified by the amount of energy a particular array of panels can produce in perfect conditions. For example a 1kWp system would produce an estimated 1kW of electricity at midday when the sun is at its highest point and not obstructed by clouds.

A PV array will supply electricity to an inverter which converts DC electricity to AC electricity (the same as what we are supplied through the grid). The inverter will be connected at the mains fuse box and the whole system will be grid linked by RGI Solar. so that any excess electricity can be exported to the national grid.

Essex and the rest of the South East is the second best area in the country for sunlight a very good source of Solar to plug into. The average South facing roof inclined at 30 degrees can receive a remarkable 1000-1100 kWh of Solar radiation per square meter a year. This means that a 2kWp PV array (using approx. 16sqm of roof space) installed on a south facing roof here in Essex can be expected to produce 1800kWh of electricity per annum. On average this is around half of the average households annual electricity requirements.

For the life of the system there will be no significant maintenance required, we do advise washing the solar panels occasionally to remove any dirt.

Every system we install comes with both a Solar Panel manufacturer guaranteed performance for 25 years and one Inverter company is now offering a 20 year warranty on their inverters for a small additional cost, as a company we offer all our customers a 10 year insurance backed workmanship warranty along with a call out service in case our customers should face any faults with their installations

 

What is the feed in tariff scheme?

The purpose of the feed in tariff scheme is to incentivise investment in renewable energy throughout the UK in order to help us achieve the legally binding target of 15% of total energy from renewables by 2020 (up from 2% in 2009). It is also designed to spur households into cutting their carbon footprints to enable households to significantly contribute towards the UK€s reduction in carbon emissions.

 

The feed in tariff scheme was first pioneered in Germany where solar PV produces 8,877MW of electricity annually. It was introduced by the labour government last year and thanks to its continued signs of promise for increasing renewable energy uptake in the UK has been backed by the new coalition government as well.

 

Anyone taking up the offer of the feed in tariff now will be guaranteed the existing high rates of payments for 25 years so fears that the rug will be pulled under the scheme leaving those who paid out to invest out of pocket are unnecessary. However, what is widely expected is that those buying into solar power at a later date in 2012 will be faced with lower feed in tariff rates although the savings will undoubtedly be just as high if not higher given the future of energy costs.

 

The feed in tariff provides 3 fundamental benefits to those investing in Solar PV:

  • Guaranteed premium payment for all electricity that their systems produce.
  • Guaranteed price for any electricity exported onto the electricity network. This is determined by the amount of electricity that gets produced and the amount of surplus that is unused. (note that for households whose electricity use is low during the day could lead to a substantial portion of payment).
  • Onsite usage of generated electricity which will reduce the amount purchased from an electricity supplier

 

How do the feed in tariffs work?

The scheme is funded by the British population’s energy bills. A carbon levy bill of 0.05% is incorporated into the electricity bills of every UK energy user. This then goes to provide renewable generators with a 25 year guaranteed support payment (20 years for other renewable) for all the electricity they produce.

 

In order to propel the UK’s uptake of Solar Power and other renewable technologies the government have set feed in tariff rates quite high. These prices are guaranteed for 25 years for those who sign up the scheme prior to March 2012. However, this tariff will be reduced annually hereafter.

 

Licensed electricity suppliers supplying energy to over 50,000 domestic customers are  mandated to join the scheme. These suppliers are known as FIT licensees.  FIT Licensees are required to  take their customers who install solar power through the registration process, obtain regular meter readings and make tariff payments. RGI Solar. will provide the support and a handover pack to ensure that you comply with the necessary obligations in order to receive your payments. A list of FIT licensees can be found at the ofgem website. 

Ofgem is also responsible for ensuring that utility companies comply with the feed in tariff requirements.

 

How much will I get paid?

The rate you receive per kilowatt hour your system produces depends on its size. The table below shows the tariff rates that you can expect if you install before April 2012:

 

System type

System size

Tariff level  p/kWh

Tariff lifetime (years)

PV

<4 kWp (retrofit)

15.44

20

PV

<4 kWp (new build)

 15.44

20

PV

>4 < 10 kWp

14.0

20

PV

>10 < 100 kWp

 13.0

20

 

 

   

 

For the average 4 kWp household retro-fit installation you will be earning 15.44p per kwh that it produces. In real terms this could give you an annual income of around a £500 based on the fact that a 4kWp system that is based in the south west and is of a southerly orientation could easily be generating 3600kWh a year. (this estimation is based on the regions average daylight hours which are in fact, remarkably predictable!). On top of this payment you will be making a substantial saving on your electricity bills. For further calculations and visit the Energy Savings Trust€ cash back calculator€. . Remember every kWp installed requires 10m2 of space that is best between South East and South West orientation.

 

What is the future of Feed in Tariffs?

Feed in Tariffs have been significantly reduced by the government over the past year, but installation costs have also reduced significantly so it is still a very good long term investment.

 A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change states that existing rates are guaranteed for those who are already into he scheme.€Feed in tariff levels and duration are set out in the licences under which electricity suppliers operate. They cannot be changed without parliamentary scrutiny. The government has frequently stated that any future changes in tariffs will only be applied to new entrants to the scheme and it has no intention of changing tariffs for those already receiving Fits€.

 

Will Solar Power substitute my utility bills?

The average household€s energy consumption for a three bedroom house is 4200 kwh a year. A Solar PV array is likely to produce 3600kwh a year and as PV can can only supply when it is light and best with the sun shining Solar PV can not provide all your electricity.

 

Unfortunately Solar PV is not constant as storage of the energy has not yet been mastered, and you will be producing more in summer and during the day you will be producing less at night.

Consequently we can say that you could make up to a 50% saving on your electricity use. However if you change your patterns of energy use such as using more electricity during the day (such as doing your laundry or dishwashing) and if you increase the efficiency of your home these savings could be significantly improved

 

The short answer is they are unlikely to substitute your utility bills (particularly for domestic sized systems) but they will significantly reduce them.

 

How much electricity will it actually produce?

 The amount of electricity your solar PV system produces will depend on the daylight hours it is exposed to which can differ depending on the region in which is it located and the orientation of the panels. The amount of energy that each system produces also depends on the efficiency of the panels and the size of your total array.

 The Energy Savings Trust estimates that an array mounted on a southerly facing pitch in this region can expect 901kwh per kWp to be produced per annum. This sum is based on average annual daylight hours that we receive in this region. You may well be surprised, but Dorset and the rest of the South West region actually have an excellent solar resource.

 So we can expect a total annual electricity production from an average 4kWp domestic system installed on again the average three bedroom property can be expected to produce 3604kwh a year.

 The Energy Savings Trust website has an excellent€˜Cash Back Calculator€ which will give you the chance to estimate the annual electricity production and returns on investment that you could expect from your solar PV installation. (hyperlink energy savings trust).

 

How much space will I need?

A typical Solar PV system requires around 10m2 of space per kWp installed. For example a typical 4kWp installation would fit comfortably on a roof that is 7m x 4 in dimensions.

 If you are not sure of the dimensions of your roof feel free to contact us  with your full address and post code and we will be able to take a look at the measurements of your roof and give you an estimate for the size of system you could install on the pitch you have available.

 

What other requirements are there before you can consider installing Solar Power?

Unfortunately solar power cannot be generated from every roof in the country. Crucially roof tops need to be un-shaded throughout the day. They also need to be south facing although south east and south west orientation by a few degrees is usually fine. Although a 30 degree slope is optimal flat roofs and land also offers workable space thanks to the various mounting technologies that we can supply and install with.

 

Would the installation cause any disruption to me and my property?

Disruptions over the installation period are minimal. Other then a bit of wiring inside the majority of work is done on your roof. Installing Solar PV doesn't make any noise and will only require scaffolding for a maximum of 2 weeks.

 

How long will it take to install?

Installations should take no more than 1 weeks. Most domestic installations can take as little as 2-3 days to complete.

 

Do I need planning permission?

Solar PV installations don€t usually require any planning permission at all. Any system will be permitted unless:

 

  • The panels installed protrude more than 200mm
  • The Solar PV equipment extends above the highest point of the roof (excluding the chimney)
  • The Solar PV array is visible from the highway in conservation areas, on listed buildings or  World Heritage sites

 

We advise anyone in doubt to contact their local planning authority. 

 

What happens if I move house?

 An Energy Savings Trust survey has identified that 1/3rdof the British population would be willing to pay more for a home with a solar PV installation. And why wouldn€t they? Not only are they inheriting an income with the property that they are buying, but they are also escaping the clutches of ever increasing utility costs.

 This survey doesn€t stand alone. Previous research reported in the Guardian newspaper states that installing a renewable energy system to your property can add up to 9% to its value. It might also be noted that this report was taken in 2006 before Feed in Tariff were added to the equation.  Certainly Chris Holmes spokes person for the national improvement show urges that the retail value of your home could rise by approximately 5%, so not a bad move in this existing property market.  He states that€˜Retrofitting a home can be the Ultimate responsible home improvement€. There is no doubt that estate agents are becoming increasingly accomplished at selling households with Solar PV systems installed.

 So not only will you be paid back while you use your solar PV electricity for the 25 years after it is installed, allowing many systems to be paying for themselves within 7 years as it is, but you will also be reaping the rewards when you sell your house.

 

Do Solar arrays require a lot of maintenance?

Solar PV requires virtually no maintenance at all. We advise that you check your array annually for debris such as leaves, dust or bird dropping and occasionally they may need to be cleaned with soapy water and a soft bristled brush but other than that they can be left to operate themselves. Part of the beauty of Solar PV is the reliability.

 

Does a Solar PV installation come with any warranties?

All our Solar PV panels come with up to 25 year manufacturer€s warranty. Our inverters also come with at least 5 years warranty and as a company we offer a further 5 year warranty to cover our workmanship and equipment. At RGI Solar. We also offer our customers a call out service in case you face any problems or need assistance after the installation has taken place.

 

How much does it cost?

Prices are marked per kWp installed. If you are planning to install a domestic system you will be looking at a cost of £1600  per kWp. Consequently an average domestic installation of 4kWp it would cost you around £6400. For the larger projects over and above 10kWp the cost per kWp can be significantly reduced based on bulk purchase and supply. Contact us today for your free quotation.