In a word facing a climate crisis and steep electricity prices, many of us are looking for more renewable, sustainable and independent sources of power. So why choose solar energy, and specifically, solar PV?
Let's look into each of these solar power benefits in more detail.
A well-sized PV solar energy system - combined with storage if the usage is primarily in the morning/evening - can cover a significant portion of your home or building's annual electricity usage, up to 70-80% in many cases.
What this means is that for the majority of the year the building will be powered by 100% clean solar electricity, much to the annoyance of your electricity supplier!
Alongside the grid independence and environmental benefits, the government proposed Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) provides an economic incentive. Any excess solar energy generated by a PV system can be exported to the grid. The electricity exported to the grid is remunerated at a fixed or variable rate determined by the supplier, which is likely to be in the region of 5p/kWh. Assuming 50% export and at a rate of 5p/kWh, this roughly equates to an extra £25 per year on top of the electricity savings for every 3 or 4 panels installed.
Britain imports around 36% of the energy we use (BEIS, 2018). Solar power is contributing to the recent downward trend in import, so by installing panels you will be playing a part in the UK's return to energy independence.
A solar PV system will knock over half a tonne off your carbon footprint for every kWp installed. Thus a standard domestic 4-6 kWp system will knock 2-3 tonnes off your carbon footprint. A 50 kWp non-residential system will cut 25 tonnes off the building’s carbon footprint. The system will also make you more aware of your energy use, both in the home and outside it. As a result you will reap indirect savings both in cash and in carbon.
Everyone knows electricity prices go up over time. The graph below shows inflation-linked energy prices from 2005-2016. Although prices decreased from 2014-2016, they started rising again in 2017 amid escalating global oil prices.
Electricity Costs Since 2005. Source: BEIS, 2017
A solar PV system will give you protection against rising energy prices as you are in effect purchasing your power in advance. Overall the lifetime cost of domestic solar electricity is now around 9p per kWh (which is well below the typical 15p domestic tariff rate!).
In fact if prices rise much further owning solar panels will be like owning a mobile phone… you just can’t afford not to!
Find out more about solar PV in our expert guide:
Or explore the pros and cons of solar energy.