When we talk about the best renewable energy, solar power is near the top in volume and effectiveness. We use solar energy to generate electricity, which we then use to power our homes and businesses.
Given that the UK has a reputation for having a cold and rainy climate, it may not seem like the most logical place to locate solar energy production facilities. The UK, however, may still use solar power since this process requires a minimal level of sunlight.
According to a statistical study, solar energy amounts to 4% of the UK’s total electricity generation.
Solar energy is generated by individual photovoltaic (PV) cells. Cells and conductive materials are combined to make solar panel systems, which are then connected. Once they’ve converted the Sun’s energy, they’ll be able to power your house.
This article will talk about different factors that prove solar panels are the right choice.
- 1 What Is a Solar Array?
- 2 Orientation and Location of Your Array
- 3 Types of Solar Panels
- 4 Initial Cost and ROI
- 5 Feed-in-Tariff and Smart Export guarantee
- 6 How Much Space Do They Need?
- 7 Can the Array Be Modified in the Future?
- 8 Benefits of Using Solar Panels
- 9 Disadvantages of Solar Panels
- 10 The Lifespan of Solar Panels
- 11 How to Maintain Solar Panels
- 12 Final Words
What Is a Solar Array?
When it comes to solar panel systems, the solar array is the most crucial component. It houses all of your system’s solar panels, which gather sunlight and turn it into energy.
A solar array is made up of several solar panels that work together to produce energy.
Direct current (DC) energy is generated when sunlight strikes an array of solar panels. DC energy generated by the array is converted to usable alternating current (AC) electricity via an inverter system.
Large-scale solar farms are commonly referred to as solar arrays, although the word may apply to any collection of solar panels.
Orientation and Location of Your Array
The UK lies in the Northern hemisphere. This implies that the Sun is above the equator, making south-facing solar panels most efficient.
If you have solar panels facing south, you’ll have direct exposure to the Sun all day. This provides them with the most time possible to gather sunlight and turn it into energy.
However, rooftops aren’t your only option when it comes to installing solar panels. If you have a lot of property and access to plenty of sunlight, a ground mount solar system may be a better option for you. An array on the ground may generate more energy over time since it is not limited by the roof’s size and can be faced and angled ideally for optimum output.
Types of Solar Panels
The kind of solar PV panel you select will be determined by your needs, your accessible space, and the amount of money you have to spend. Since their inception, solar cells have made significant progress. Their technological advancements have elevated them to new levels of efficiency while also improving their visual appeal.
- Monocrystalline solar panels: These are smaller and lighter than panels made of polycrystalline silicon. But they produce approximately the same amount of electricity. However, they may be more costly.
- Polycrystalline solar panel: Their manufacturing process is easier, making it less expensive but less efficient at high temperatures. This isn’t a big deal if they’re only used for your house. The downside is that you’ll need more room for them since you’ll have more in number.
- Solar-powered roof tiles: These roof tiles seem like regular ones, but they include a built-in battery. For those who are concerned about the aesthetics of solar panels, they may be a better choice. These are expensive and cost about £10,000 for a typical three-person house.
Initial Cost and ROI
The cost of solar systems in the UK starts at about £4000 to £6000 for the initial installation. The more accessible roof space you have, the more energy your photovoltaic system will produce.
In the first year, a 4kw system on a 21 metre sq. roof might earn you £700 in savings, and after 20 years, it could bring in £6,750 in savings. After the first investment is recovered, you’ll start earning and saving money.
Feed-in-Tariff and Smart Export guarantee
The Feed-in Tariff is a government programme that rewards people and companies that use solar PV panels to generate their energy. Incentives for eligible PV owners include two payments over twenty years.
- Generation Tariff: Payments per kilowatt-hour (kWh) produced by your solar PV panels
- Export Tariff: Payment for energy produced by your system but not used is automatically transferred to the national grid tracked by export
Feed-In tariffs have ended, but part of the solar energy produced will undoubtedly be sent back into the grid. And because it is unlawful not to be compensated for this under existing laws, a new mechanism has been developed.
A new effort in a Smart Export Guarantee will compensate solar power producers for energy exported to the grid.
How Much Space Do They Need?
If you want to use solar PV, you’ll need at least 10 square metres of clear roof area, about the size of a regular vehicle parking spot. This won’t be a problem in most houses, but make sure it doesn’t block any vents.
Can the Array Be Modified in the Future?
If your electricity consumption is expected to rise in future, you might consider adding more solar panels to your array. It’s feasible to expand your system in the future if you have enough room for extra panels.
However, there are a few considerations to bear in mind.
- If space is an issue, you may want to spend a little more on high-efficiency equipment (monocrystalline panels) while building your initial array. This optimises your total energy output while preserving room for future panels,
- Find out whether your installer has worked on any such projects. To avoid problems, it’s generally simpler to deal with the company that performed the initial installation.
- If you know your energy consumption will rise in the near future, it’s a good idea to initially oversizing the system to prevent a costly add-on project in the future. You’ll save money on labour and permits if you do this.
Benefits of Using Solar Panels
There are many advantages of using solar power to generate your electricity.
Using solar panels to power your house or company reduces your carbon footprint since no pollutants are generated while they are operating.
2. Save Money
Whatever energy you generate is completely free and may be used to power anything in your house for free. This will result in reduced energy costs and longer-term savings of money.
Since Feed-in-Tariff is repealed, you’ll see an increase in the return on your investment thanks to the Smart Export Guarantee that has taken its place.
3. Renewable Source of Energy
Energy from the Sun will never run out, and solar panels operate even on gloomy days, so you should have enough free power throughout the year.
You may store the energy you generate and utilise it at night by installing a battery storage device. As an added benefit, it reduces your carbon impact.
Disadvantages of Solar Panels
With all the amazing benefits, solar panels do come with a few cons as well.
1. No Solar Power at Night
Some individuals considering going solar may question whether they can entirely cut themselves off from the grid after making the switch. This isn’t feasible.
Solar-powered homes must depend on utility grids or battery storage during the night to keep their lights on.
2. Questionable Reliability and Efficiency
Solar panels in the UK are limited in how much electricity they can produce due to the lack of a very sunny climate.
Even on cloudy or rainy days, solar panels may still generate electricity, but their efficiency plummets. Therefore, backup power sources are required at night. Because electricity production soars in the summer and drops in the winter, we have an uncertain energy supply all year round.
The Lifespan of Solar Panels
Solar panels are becoming an increasingly popular choice for supplying electricity to UK households. The newest solar panel types on the market are anticipated to last 40-50 years, with warranties covering at least half of that lifetime.
You may expect your solar panels to last for over 40 years if you take excellent care of them and maintain them. However, their performance levels will have decreased somewhat during that time. Both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have a life expectancy of around 50 years.
How to Maintain Solar Panels
Solar panels are constructed to withstand severe and unpredictable weather conditions for extended periods. This is why solar panels are long-lasting and need little to no maintenance.
For the most part, if you keep your solar panels clean and in excellent condition, they should last for many years.
Regularly checking the panel output through the inverter or your monitoring system is also critical. In other words, if the production is lower than anticipated, you will know why and be able to get your panels back up and running as efficiently as possible.
A PV solar system may seem like an enormous project, but it is essential to keep in mind that it is an investment for the long run. Solar energy is a cost-effective option in many countries, including the UK.
Clean, renewable energy also has environmental advantages that help decrease carbon emissions and our total contribution to climate change.
Anything that helps households save money while saving the planet for future generations is worthwhile in terms of research and investment.