Last week I went on a 3 day grid tied solar photovoltaic (solar PV) installation training course up in Chesterfield. I know my off grid solar PV as I design and supply systems for battery charging regularly, but getting the low down on grid tied installations was an interesting and worthwhile process.
Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)
For my customers to benefit from the new Feed in Tariffs (introduced April 2010) all equipment installed and I, as the installer, have to be MCS accredited.
It is a prerequisite of becoming a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited installer that I can prove I am competent and the Solar PV course is one element of doing just that.
The process of becoming accredited can be quite demanding, and I believe it is important that the MCS accreditation process is professional and thorough. The last thing the fledgling UK solar industry needs is a bunch of cowboys running around installing rubbish systems.
Solar PV Payback
The question everyone asks me is what is the payback on solar pv ? Well unfortunately there's not one simple answer to that question!
Every property is different - solar yield will depend on a number of factors including :
- Size of solar generation system
- Orientation of solar panel (s) (south facing best)
- Tilt angle of solar panel (s)
- Amount of overshading
Other factors will also come into to play such as how much energy the property uses (and when) and then you are into the vagueries of future inflation in terms of both RPI (effects future rates of Feed In Tariff) and how much energy prices will increase over the lifetime of the system. The other major factor effecting payback time is the cost of the installation at the outset.
If pushed I would say that most systems installed in the UK will fall somewhere in the 5 to 15 year payback period. If you are interested in installing a solar PV system at your property make sure you (and your installer!) understand how your system will perform for you physically and financially.
Will Solar PV work for you?
I will of course be spending time with all of my own grid tied solar PV customers to explain to them :
- how the system works
- how it will perform
- what the income will be from the Feed in Tariff
- what the likely energy bill savings will be