Monday, 3 October 2011

Solar Power & Baby Boomers are the perfect match.

I was born in 1950. I’m a “Baby Boomer”. Part of the luckiest generation ever created. Born between January 1st, 1946 and December 31st, 1964, we enjoyed the start of the welfare state which promised care from cradle to grave using a health service which was the envy of the world. As a result of that care my generation will live longer and will place an ever increasing burden on the UK’s economies ability to sustain that care. 

1: We can afford to make the investment.
We’re the richest generation ever, and official statistics would suggest that, in an economic downturn we’re a demographic worthy of consideration. The over 50s not only hold 80% of the country’s wealth, but also have a 30% higher disposable income than those under 50. The over 50s also make up over one third of the population and the 55 to 64s have the highest disposable income of any age group.

2: We have the time and energy to investigate the options.
Solar power and the related technology is complicated, there are probably no friends or neighbours who you can consult for advice or help. You need to spend time online looking for independent and impartial information and experiences from like minded existing people who've had a system installed. Whilst this is vitally important it all takes time. Baby Boomers don't have the same time pressures of family and work imposed on younger families starting out. We may not know much about technology initially, but boy are we good at finding information.  

3: We own the property (& the roof) needed for solar installations.
As the graph below shows Baby Boomers are more likely to own the property necessary for PV panels to be installed. Whilst it's great to have a system on your rented property roof which provides you with free electricity whilst the sun shines, it's MUCH better to have the electricity and the feed in Tariff payments each quarter.

4: Statistically, we're in stable relationships and unlikely to be moving house.
Even if you have the spare capital to invest in placing PV panels on your roof, it's hard to justify that investment if there's a chance you'll be moving out (for whatever reason) in the near future. Baby Boomers are probably in their final home with no mortgage and have spent the money required to make it comfortable in their retirement.

5: Once we're retired we spend more time "at home".
When you're working the likelihood is that the house will be empty for most of the day, particularly during the 11.00 to 15.00 period of the day when PV panels generate the most "FREE" electricity. Baby Boomers can run energy intensive appliances during the optimum period just by looking out of the window.

Link to Guardian report: The current Feed in Tariff rate of 43.3p per kWh generated will be reduced in spring 2012. The cost of installing PV panels has fallen in the past 3 months and may continue to do so in the future, but now looks to be a good time to take the plunge...

What are you waiting for?

Postscript: 18/11/2011. I've always thought that hindsight is a wonderful thing. The UK governments decision to reduce the FiT for all new domestic installations after December 12th 2011 means that I was right to suggest now was the right time....

I've had comments on this post, regarding the potential for making a 2nd application for FiT using a friends, family member or investment opportunity roof. Obviously, this has long term legal implications for the home owner and the person investing in solar energy. I've sourced a potential agreement form which could provide the basis for an agreement. Please be aware I'm providing the link to the template which would be used entirely at your own risk. Contract Link.

I'd be very interested in anyone's experience of providing "Free Electricity" whilst collecting the revenue from the FiT.



  1. "Even if you have the spare capital to invest in placing PV panels on your roof, it's hard to justify that investment if there's a chance you'll be moving out (for whatever reason) in the near future"

    The FiT is paid to the generator, so if you have a simple contract with a roof-owner you can get the financial benefit of the investment if not the energy reduction.

    Damon Hart-Davis at has shown me a sample contract that provides for the FiT to be paid to the generator, but allows for the energy generated to be used by the householder. The key clauses are those that separate the sale of the roof from PV system, but also offer a way of buying out the PV system if circumstances change. This looked a fair and interesting way of putting savings to very good use. So the "rent" for the roof is paid by the PV energy used.

  2. @cbatjesmond
    Hi Chris.
    I'm going to take a look at the web page you mention. (It's not loading this morning).
    I suspect that there's a lot of people currently earning 3% on their investments who might want to re-invest in friends/families roofs.

  3. hi icarus
    Just had my panels installed today.. 16 in total .. and now the clouds have arrived.
    craig in scotland

  4. @Anonymous

    Welcome to the club....

    Sorry it's raining, but things can only get better. Once you've got solar panels you take much more of an interest in the weather forecast. 9 times out of 10 it's wrong!

    How about keeping in touch with how your systems dong? I'd be very interested in comparing output in Scotland each month compared to the Midlands.

    Good luck.

  5. @Icarus
    I think it's too early to say "things can only get better" -- especially for those of us further north than you :-) Days will get a lot shorter, if not more cloudy, before the kWs start creeping up again!

    As to the people looking for a better return than bank interest: indeed! that was one of my triggers, but more important was ensuring that *my* savings would be doing something of benefit to *me* (rather than the banks' management & shareholders) and was in a form that would keep on benefiting me/mine even if/when the value of money depreciates and/or the banks are wiped out by their bad bets.

  6. @Icarus How about keeping in touch with how your systems dong? I'd be very interested in comparing output in Scotland each month compared to the Midlands.

    If people have the discipline to read their meter regularly, can I commend to you as a way or recording all your meters and comparing readings with their "Communities" -- groups of members.

    I must admit though, that I haven't got to grips with the new interface yet, so don't know whether you can share the Submeter readings that you'd record PV and any export under.

    I'm cbatjesmond there too if anyone wanted to invite me to join a Community (to make your figures look good :-)

  7. @cbatjesmond
    Hi Chris. I've entered my details on the "imeasure" website. Looks interesting for the feedback on how my home is dong. I'm not certain how to join a community, but would be keen to share yours. (Or anyone else who's interested.

    Best regards.

  8. Sadly the imeasure and smeasure link don't seem to be working? I am interested in comparing solar yields though.

  9. @Chrisso
    Hi Chrisso. Sorry I've taken so long to reply, I've just returned from holiday. The imeasure link appeared on a previous comment by 'cbatjesmond'. I'm not sure what the "smeasure" link you mention is. I've taken on board your comment and added the site link to my main page. I'm already comparing systems and costs on the site with:"Jesmond Transition" & "Knighton Beacons". I'd be delighted to compare your new system with theirs.
    Best regards. Icarus

  10. @Icarus

    I've looked at the relevant document which MAY be suitable (entirely up to you, and at your own risk.)

    Good luck.