Solar panel slump

Apparently, with the demise of feed-in contracts, the installation of photovoltaic solar panels across the country has come to a shuddering halt; numbers have crashed by 94% since the hey-day of the big subsidies, and the industry here in the UK is on its knees.

We so wanted to install a domestic set of solar panels back when the tariff was huge, and it seemed likely to be quite profitable indeed to sell energy on to the big electricity suppliers on the grid; sadly for us, there was not enough financial resource to acquire the appropriate configuration for our roof! And then the subsidies dropped, and dropped again, until today, while solar panels are still a useful contribution to reducing one’s carbon footprint, the excess energy is only supplied free and gratis back to the grid.

So it doesn’t look like we’ll avail ourselves of any further opportunities to go solar, at home, without those feed-in incentives. More likely, we’ll add a couple of new solar panels to Harry Hymer, our ancient motorhome, so we can go off-grid any time we feel like it, on our travels, with perfect aplomb and smugness. With 400 watts of energy coming in from the sun, and a 400 watt Czech oven (the amazing Remoska), we should be in equilibrium between electricity supply and demand, as long as we bake Carrie’s special sourdough bread in the bright sunshine!

The way this summer is going though, I wonder somebody hasn’t yet invented a rain-powered electrical device! I suppose you’d call that hydro-electricity, and yes, of course the Cragside house, and all of Allenheads back in the day, were once powered by hydro-electricity. But if you could harness all the energy from zillions of raindrops, say, hitting the earth with their teeny individual energy quanta, on a flat permeable sheet spread over an acre in front of the house, you might be laughing if you paired that sort of system with a wind turbine and a solar panel grid. Catching every possible energy source that way, for sure! Except, come to think of it, the rain here is more of the drizzle, spits and spots dreek than the driving stair-rod type of rain experienced in America’s midwest with its crashing thunder and lightning storms, so maybe not so much energy from such soft patter after all.

Until any further new inventions then, or, more likely, renewed feed-in subsidies and great financing packages as part of a concerted response to Greta Thunberg’s climate emergency call, we’ll just cope with the mains setup we already enjoy. What a palaver all around to get to where we’ve been! But the future might be here faster than we now think.

4 Comments

  1. Although the loss of the feeding-in tariff is a blow it’s still worth getting PVAs and using all the power yourself by using a thermal Heatstore or battery store. Then you can sit back and watch for the green light coming on and you are drawing from the grid.

  2. But financing it all? If you have a spare £10k lying around, I can see the advantages of capital investment in a solar array, even without feed-in subsidies. But if you have to borrow that capital, then there’s no financial advantage, is there? Paying off the loan with the savings from your electricity bill makes zero net gain, if you’re lucky, I’d have thought. Hence, crash of the solar panel market without subsidies.

  3. The Smart Export Gurantee starts next January forcing the large energy suppliers to have an export tariff. Some already have an export tariff so you get paid for exporting. Still need the capital investment though!

  4. Actually it’s around £7-£8k and the figures over 10 years means the cost-savings balance the purchase price and interest, and think: you’re helping the planet. But I agree it’s a stupid move by this government when they should be putting more in, but you have to see where their interest lies: petro-carbons and fracking industries.

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