Friday, 23 March 2012

Think you've missed the boat on solar installation? Think again.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. 
I love the increased speed, economy, ease of use, etc that comes with each new purchase. I hate the built in obsolescence that the pace of modern design makes inevitable in everything we use. 
I'm writing this on an iPad2, I think it's probably the most life-changing device I've owned, but now it's old and superseded by the "New iPad". It's the same with PV panels.
Many of the people who contact me about their new installation have had significantly more powerful panels installed in comparison with mine. I've unashamedly lusted after the latest offering from SunPower which makes my panels look very out of date. 

Schuco  MPE 190 MS 05
1591 mm X  0.809 mm
1559 mm X 1046 
Cell Efficiency
Output Tolerance
+5 %/-0
+5 %/-0
Number of cells
Rated voltage  Vmp
25-year limited power warranty
5-year limited product warrant
25-year limited power warranty
10-year limited product warrant

If I was looking to install a system today I would be able to specify a system which would be significantly more powerful for the same roof space than in June 2011. Although the SunPower panels are bigger than my Schuco items I think it would be possible to fit 11 panels rated at 333W generating a potential 3,007 kWh/year. This makes the return on investment still seem very attractive even at the new FiT rate of 21p.

I'm registered for the 43.3p FiT and anticipating an approximate 10% return on my £10,000 investment in June 2012 after one years operation.
Installation costs have fallen significantly. If I received an quote for a system using 11 SumPower E20 panels for £6,500 - £7000 and was registered for the 21p tariff I would still be receiving a 10% return.
Compare the figures:

My current details:

14 Schuco PV panels rated at 190W: 14 x 190 = 2660 divided by 1000 = 2.66kWp

*My roof has a 30° slope and faces SE. = 1027

**I have no shade on the roof at any time of the day. = 100%

0.8 x 2.66 x 1027 x 100% = 2185 kWh/year

2012 New Installation:

11 SunPower PV panels rated at 233W: 11 x 233 = 3663 divided by 1000 = 3.66kWp

*My roof has a 30° slope and faces SE. = 1027

**I have no shade on the roof at any time of the day. = 100%

0.8 x 3.66 x 1027 x 100% = 3007 kWh/year

Existing revenue = 2185 x .4485p (43.3p + 1.55p 50% export rate)
                               = £979.97pa.

New installation = 3007 x .2255p (21pp + 1.55p 50% export rate)                                           
                                    = £678.07pa.

The reduced installation cost will provide a very similar return. For anyone considering solar power I'd say get in there as quickly as possible before the government reduces the tariff further.

Icarus T:(@solaricarus)


  1. Yingli Panda are the 9th most efficient panel in the world at 16%, Sanyo are third most efficient at 19% but more expensive. I would rather buy Yingli at £7k ish with 14% ROI than Sanyo at £10k ish with 10% ROI.

    Me? I have Norwegian REC panels, not as productive as the Japanese Sanyo but cheaper to install. Over 25 years who knows which will stand the test of time better?

    The following link has useful comments by installers on systems and their efficacy, I'm Chrisso on there ...

    1. I have to agree with the statement "Who knows what will happen in the next 25 years". Based on the past 10 months we'll be living in a very different world than today. Better? I'm not sure, but definately different.

  2. Despite Friday's judicial refusal to let the Government appeal its decision that the coalition govt had acted illegally in reducing the FiT rate for new installations after 12 Dec 2011 whilst consultation was taking place, the Government has succeeded in reducing the subsidy for new installations. This was cut to 21p from 2 March, and the rate is now set to fall even further to around 13.6p per kilowatt hour by July 2012. This would mean a 68% cut has been made since December in the rate paid.

    1. I think the likely reduction of the FiT to 13.6p makes my point that householders need to be talking to installers ASAP. It becomes increasingly unlikely that the current ROI will carry on for much longer.