Here at Solarfeedintariff we like everybody to share their feelings on solar energy. One of our readers has been kind enough to give his thoughts on his new solar system and the report is below. Please feel free to submit any articles you feel would help educate the world on solar energy.

We have an unshaded South West facing roof at about 45o angle.  We had scaffolding for some quite substantial roof work, so decided to use the opportunity to have PV panels installed.  Because of a dormer, we had little space and could accommodate only four panels, mounted horizontally, giving us a maximum of just less than 1kw. The supplier was a JHS, a small company in Banbury.

The inverter gives a reading of the current power and total units each day – this gives lots of opportunities for taking readings and doing all sorts of nerdy analysis. Over the first four weeks (July) we are averaging 3.5 units per day.  On about the 15 August the sun will actually hit the panels square on at one point in the day – will this be the best day overall?   Facing SW, the panels do not see the sun at all until after 11 am (BST), until that time we generate more power from bright clouds than blue sky.  Hence it is ideally white cloud until mid morning and then sun – although we do get several hundred watts from bright white clouds.

Getting ourselves registered through our utility company (SSE) took a bit of effort.  The web-site was uninformative, emails were not replied to and I did not have the patience to wait for them to answer telephones.  Writing a letter worked, we were put in touch with the ‘microgeneration’ department and now have a feed-in contract.  There does not yet seem to be a formal scheme for submitting readings of our solar generation, we are asked just to write or email the reading every three months.

There are four ways you save money, three of them legal.  (i) The feed-in tariff, 41.3p per unit generated is very generous.  (ii) For the power you actually use while being generated, you obviously save on your electricity bill – around 11p per unit.  (iii) They also assume (they cannot measure, without extra equipment) that 50% of your power goes back into the grid, effectively this gives you get an extra 1.5p per unit generated.  (iv) If you have an old fashioned meter, the little wheel goes backwards  when you are not using all the power, and this drives the meter backwards – the effect of this is that you are saving 11p per unit on all the power you generate, not just that you use.  I suppose the utility company knows this – the meter does belong to them!

Our installation cost around £6000.  Will we get out money back?  Well at my age (67) maybe not, but we should see a substantial saving each year – and  it’s all been very interesting.

C J Pavelin July 2010

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