Solar electricity systems capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic (PV) cells. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.
Do I need a south-facing roof?
A shade-free, south-facing roof is best but 45o 'off' south (eg. S-by-SW or S-by-SE) will only result in a 4% loss in potential energy. The best slope is between 25 and 40 degrees.
Will I need planning permission?
Not for most roofs. Keep the panel away from the edges/roof line and you should be fine (check with us or the Highland Council Planning Department if you need more information).
Does the PV system have to go on the roof?
No, but if you put your panels up in your garden you can still get full FiTs payment as long as the power goes into the house like a roof-mounted system. However, such a system requires Planning Permision if it exceeds 9m2.
What might a typical system cost and how long before they have paid for themselves?
A 12 panel, 2.8 kWp (kilowatt 'peak') system will cost around £11 - 12k and take around 9 - 11 years to pay for itself.
What is the FiT rate for solar PV?
The current rate of Feed-in-tariffs is 15.44p/kWh for electricity generated and 4.64p/kWh for exported electricity. Please see the feed-in-tariff page for more information.
Do we get enough sun in Lochaber?
It would seem so have a look at the map. We can expect around 900kWh per square metre annually, about the same as the scottish borders or the north of England.
Here at LEG we are putting together a data set of actual generation amounts from PV systems around Lochaber. Current results show that for every kWp Lochaber systems are generating between 660 and 830kW. In other words if you had a 4kWh system you could generate 2640-3320kW per year. Earning you approx £455-£570 in FiTs.
There are also websites available that estimate your generating capacity for you- http://www.solarguide.co.uk/solar-pv-calculator
Which PV panels/brands are the best?
This is never an easy question to answer but have a look at this comparison chart which compares different brands in shady and sunny conditions.
The video below shows solar panels being installed on a roof in just one day.
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