Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Solar Panels

There are now nearly 1 million solar panel installations in the UK.
Most of these have been installed over the last decade, with the majority under-pinned by financial support by a variety of government grants. The big impetus came in April 2010, when electricity suppliers became obliged to pay a feed-in tariff (also known as ‘clean energy cash-back’) to people who generated their own renewable electricity. 
As a result, a number of organisations started offering free solar panels to some households and businesses. The deal was that that the home-owner or business got free electricity and the organisation took the income from the surplus electricity produced and which was fed into the national grid.
A number of constituents came to see me saying “Free electricity sounds like a really good deal, doesn’t it? What’s the catch?” As a result, seven years ago, I posted an article 1 advising that having solar panels on your home might be a really good thing, but you ought to ask a lot of questions – and get the answers – before proceeding.
The questions included:
• What are the guarantees about electricity production from this system?
• What happens if the kit stops working?
• Will it affect my mortgage?
• Do I need planning permission or building regulations approval?
• What happens if I want to sell my house but the buyer doesn’t want the kit?
• Who is responsible for any damage to neighbouring properties during installation?
• What happens if the organising company goes out of business?

As a result, I hope that local people did their homework and got the best deal they could, and avoided potential disasters, before signing on the dotted line.
Recently, the House of Commons’ Library published a very useful Q & A on Solar Panels 2 .
There is still support available for installing renewable technologies such as solar panels through Feed-in tariffs. Such schemes boosts the UK’s renewable capacity and can reduce household consumption, and possibly bills, for homeowners with panels.
However, just as in 2010, there are lots of questions you need to ask before going ahead. This independent analysis will help you to decide if and when.
1 11 November 2010