Which solar energy company does a renewable energy specialist turn to for his own home's installation?
Its no surprise that professionals working in any renewable energy field are aware of the practical, carbon-saving benefits of installing solar energy in their own homes. For Tony Almond, boss of Planet Energy Solutions, that meant a double dose of solar power with both solar photovoltaics and solar thermal panels installed at his property in Welwyn, Hertfordshire.
Both systems were supplied and installed by SolarUK, who design and manufacture the award-winning LaZer2 solar thermal collectors.
Planet Energy Solutions specializes in the design and installation of sustainable energy systems, offering clients quality technical advice on technologies including wind turbine, heat pump and wood fired boiler systems, as well as other sustainable living systems such as water harvesting and living roofs.
The 3.08kWp photovoltaic system installed at the house comprises 14 Sharp ND220 panels mounted on a south-facing pitched roof. The panels are linked to a 6kW inverter allowing for future expansion. From April the Governments Clean Energy Cash Back scheme, better known as the Feed-in Tariff (FIT), will pay 41.3p/kWh for the electricity this system generates.
The system has been sized to match the current annual usage, which has been halved in the last three years, so it is expected that all the power generated will be consumed at the property and that there will be no net annual electricity surplus. Savings of 12.5p/kWh will result from reduced electricity bills and any surplus that does occur will be exported to the national grid for 3p/kWh.
The Feed-in Tariff revenue and energy bill savings expected from this 3.08kWp PV system amount to a combined benefit of around £1500/yr and reduce CO2 emissions by 1500 kg/yr.
The Government recently confirmed that the tariffs, which will run for 25 years, will be linked to the retail price index which will ensure that income from them is in line with inflation.
As part of the installation Mr. Almond also had a solar hot water system fitted to provide the domestic hot water for the house. The 3-collector array, consisting of the 27 LaZer2 solar thermal vacuum tubes that make up this system, manufactured at SolarUKs Sussex factory, is expected to achieve an annual yield of around.2000 kWh, reducing CO2 emissions by 360kg/yr and enabling the investment to have paid for itself within about 12 years.
Solar thermal is among the green technologies set to benefit from the Governments Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), expected to start in April 2011. As with the FIT system for power generation, it is proposed that owners of zero carbon heat generation installations will receive guaranteed payments for the heat energy they produce.
By 2020 the Government aims to have increased the amount of heat generated by renewables from the current 0.6% to 20%, with the RHI making an important contribution to achieving this target.
As Tony Almond says: Ive been running Planet Energy Solutions, a Renewable Energy Systems Project Management business, for almost four years and from the start aimed to support UK and European businesses if at all possible, whether that be a wind turbine, a wood pellet boiler or a living / sedum roof.
Having preached to professional audiences on the various low carbon technologies for a few years now, the time arrived when I really had to put my money where my mouth was and have these systems installed myself.
Since 2006 PES has organised the installation of many systems including both photovoltaic and solar thermal systems for domestic and swimming pool applications as well as sizable commercial and housing projects.
Each project has involved working with different products and specialist installers. As such weve accrued experiences of a wide range of solutions, methods and practices, and have received satisfied client feedback reports regarding all of them. So, making the decision as to which systems and which installers to go with for our own home was not an easy one at all.
The new FIT and RHI incentives make it a good time to have a system that satisfies our needs, but not to oversize them to the extent of becoming a net exporter. As weve seen, rules and life situations alter, so I wanted the ability to expand if things change in the future, I wanted systems with a high kWh/m2/£ to make best use of the roof resource and I also wanted to support UK / EU manufacture if possible (both the Lazer2 collectors and the Sharp PV panel are made in the UK).
In the end it came down to a combination of all these and a speedy installation, which was achievable with a single installer that I already had experiences with.
Both systems have been working for two weeks now and weve seen them perform in snowy, overcast and blue sky conditions. In that time the Lazer2 solar thermal array has generated 39kWh of heat energy whilst the 3.08kWp Sharp photovoltaic system array has generated 88kWh, which is a very good start. Roll on the summer!