Installing photovoltaic panels

Introduction (John Carse, Falstone Village Hall)

In early 2011 John Carse installed photovoltaic panels on his own house at Falstone. John is the Secretary of Falstone Village Hall and had attended the Autumn meeting of the Consortium in 2010 when Simon Maddon gave a presentation on photovoltaic panels that his company were installing. John used Simon Madden’s company for his own installation. This short paper is a summary of John’s presentation to the West Northumberland Community Buildings Consortium Autumn Meeting on 19th October 2011. John also said that a case is now being considered for installing photovoltaic panels on the roof of Falstone Village Hall.

Installation of the Panels
17 panels were installed on a south facing roof of the bungalow. The procedure was straight forward and no reinforcement work was necessary. John noted that the panels are constantly improving in their efficiency and those that are available today are more efficient than the ones he bought less than 12 months ago. The panels measure 1m by 1.5m. The roof type may have a bearing on the cost of installation but this point would emerge from discussions with the installer.

The equipment and life expectancy

The panels are guaranteed for 10 years and it is estimated that they will have a life of 40 years. Their efficiency is likely to drop in later years. There is also an ‘inverter’ which is likely to have a life of 15 years and a replacement may be necessary.

Generation of Income
The benefits arise from the following sources:

  • The units (kwh) generated by the panels are used to reduce your own energy consumption and costs.
  • Any surplus of the units generated by the panels that cannot be used in your home, are purchased by the electricity company. The current rate is 3.1p per unit (kwh).
  • Feed In Tariff – For all units generated there is a payment of 43.3p per kwh. This rate is guaranteed by Government once the system is operational and incorporates a link to RPI for inflation.

NOTE: The Government has reduced the rate of the Feed in Tariff rate to about 50% of its value from November 2011.

Investment and rate of return
In John’s case the investment in the panels and system was circa £15,000. Over 40 years he is expecting an income of around £65,000. When discounted this is likely to give an overall return of around 12 percent.

First Year Savings
Going by experience so far John estimates that he will make a saving of £1,905.92 in the first year. This is Buy back + reduction in usage + FIT.

A useful website to look at: