A solar photovoltaic, or solar PV, system generates electricity from daylight. You can use this free electricity in your home instead of using electricity from your energy company and so reduce your energy bills. The government also pays you for the amount of electricity that the panels produce, whether you use the energy or not!

How solar PV works

Solar PV panels are usually mounted on a sunny pitched roof, preferably south-facing and with little or no shading from trees or other buildings.  Panels come in a variety of types, with the most efficient (and expensive) models generating up to 50% more power than the cheapest models.

The electricity generated from a typical solar PV system will offset at least half of the electricity demand of your home through the course of a year.  The generating capacity of a solar PV system is measured in kilowatts (kW) and for each of kW of capacity installed you should generate around 1000kWh (units) of electricity each year and save around 600kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

An additional electricity meter is fitted, but this one measures how much electricity you generate rather than use.  

Generating money as well as electricity

The government pays you for each unit of electricity your solar PV system generates. The current rate is 14p for each unit, whether you use that electricity yourself or export it to the national grid for someone else to use instead.  This payment is called the Feed-in Tariff, or FiT. It is index-linked and guaranteed for 20 years.  As well as the 4.32p per kWh unit for the electricity the system generates, you also receive 4.91p per unit of electricity you export to the grid. This amount is usually “deemed” to be half of the amount of electricity generated.

To receive this payment the panels must be installed by an accredited MCS installer. It's also worth noting that the top FiT rate is only payable if your house has an EPC rating of D or better.

PV systems are very reliable and need little or no regular maintenance.  Panels are generally self-cleaning if installed at a typical pitch.  Owners of PV systems should learn to make the most of their free power by running power-hungry electrical appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers whilst the sun is shining, as far as is practical.

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WinACC - Solar PV - L1 May 2016.pdf122.84 KB