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Author Topic: Solar Panels?  (Read 1887 times)

Offline Graham

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Solar Panels?
« on: December 09, 2011, 05:35:38 PM »
  We had a chap round last night (Ok we invited him.) To tell us how wonderful it is to have solar panels nailed to our roof.
  Anyone any experience? Should we do it? Best thing since sliced bread, jurys out, or tell him to b"$$&r off!
                    Graham.  :-\
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 10:57:07 AM by Graham »


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Offline Hinfrance

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2011, 07:13:36 PM »
You'll never get planning permission in time to benefit from the current feed in tariff, and the reduced feed in tariff is nowhere near as attractive.

I know you didn't ask, but since I'm here, feed in subsidies for green energy are one of the most appallingly financially regressive schemes anyone anywhere has ever come up with. Fantastic for the people who can afford the outlay, increased bills for everyone else. Just one of New Labour's taxes on the poor, but the most vicious one.

Some friends of mine in Kent have a system installed. For them it's manna from heaven. They use most of the electricity themselves, but get paid more than 42p per kwh for half of all the panels produce - in effect the rest of the population are paying 4x what they would pay themselves for my friends to use electricity from the grid. So my friends' electricity bill is barely positive most of the time. Still it's early days and their inverter hasn't failed yet (that'll shock 'em, average life 3 years, about £1000 to replace, although I've no idea why they're so expensive).

Just don't get me started on the efficiency and economics of bird shredders. >:(

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Offline bones615

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2011, 08:04:15 PM »
No personal experience but my boss looked into it a few years ago & calculated a 20+ year pay back, he decided against because of the odds of still being in the same house in 20yrs to reap the benefit are slim.

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011, 08:54:29 PM »
Inverters - blimey, that's a term that takes me back a bit.

My brother in law works for a company that supplies and fits solar panels. As i understand it, they're a technology that really is being looked into, and will rapidly evolve, but agree about the ludicrous scheme that Labour introduced.

If i'd still been living at Brighton, i was gonna get a couple of those nice windmills fitted - they would've paid handsomely, but Solar Panels just haven't quite made the grade for me yet. Not that it is an issue i worry about any more...

Offline jimthetrain

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 09:03:38 PM »
My next door neighbour is having some fitted next Tuesday. Scaffold went up today. How much he will benefit is anyones guess, as he is in his eighties and lives on his own. But then again, he will probably generate more than he uses. ::)
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Offline anglefire

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2011, 08:20:41 AM »
Wait until the 2nd or third generation come out - they can only get better.

Look on this site http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your-own-energy/Financial-incentives/Cashback-Calculator
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Offline Paul Montgomery

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2011, 03:30:08 PM »
I agree with everything Hinfrance said plus, IMHO they are ugly and spoil the look of a house. I might be tempted if they could go on a North-facing roof (they can't) but I really don't want to look at them every time I go in the front door. (House faces south...)

Offline Markulous

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2011, 06:14:46 PM »
Much is said for and against but of course they're an excellent way of producing electricity where it's actually used instead of being transported miles with the attendant efficiency losses (up to a 1/3rd of power is lost in transmission). Sadly the current government are halving the Feed In Tariff as the takeup had been huge (and employs up to 20k people!) - I wonder how much of the takeup has been mopped up by the big PV farms down south - a very poor way of using such a superb initiative.

Whilst there are many rooftops where the panels are just slapped on any old how, they can be made to look not totally unattractive by a little judicious thought (there's panels and panels - not all the same)! I've never worked out why the detractors prefer the main methods of electricity generation, namely coal-fired uglies, nuclear-polluters or relatively neat but inefficient-use-of gas generators. I strongly suspect NIMBYism - happy that others have to put up with the power stations in their backyards.

My brother pi5535 himself laughing as he's an environmental consultant in Oz working to create new coal mines to send fuel to the UK....... as we closed all of ours down! Not economical when we had our own mines but now pays megabucks on the backs of the UK!  >:(

Those that put up PVs will have the last laugh as even with reduced FITs, the scheme'll pay for itself in about 15 years - and that's assuming electricity prices don't go through a massive hike in the future (as is likely to happen, seeing as we've run out of most of our own natural resources and have to pay whatever is asked of us, economically or politically).

Nope, I'm nothing to do with the industry, just researched it very thoroughly - and am involved in getting planning permission for an installation

But then there's always fracking - what's a few earth tremors in the pursuit of energy?  ::)
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Offline Hinfrance

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2011, 08:49:51 AM »
Markulous, I have to admit I found some of your observations rather challenging.

I don't mean to offend, but there are some pretty credulous statements in there.

they're an excellent way of producing electricity where it's actually used - bet you had your fingers crossed when you wrote that. It gets dark outside here at night, but luckily there is a wonderful nuke not 30 miles away producing loads of electricity, so we have power overnight. BTW,  UK National Grid transmission losses are around 2%. That's rather different to 33%. Although as more bird shredders are installed that figure will rise – but even then exceeding 3% is unlikely.

Those that put up PVs will have the last laugh as even with reduced FITs, the scheme'll pay for itself in about 15 years - erm, it's not paying for itself, your neighbours are paying for it. Best of luck with that optimistic prediction too, what with efficiency loss over time: 20 year life cycle if you're lucky, failing cells acting as resistors, discoloration, bird poo, snow, efficiency loss if it gets a bit warm (10%-15% from winter to summer), not to mention inverter(s) that will need to be replaced before then, at least once, probably twice. Ever had any solar powered lights in your garden? How long did they last? Yep, thought so . . we're on our third set in less than 10 years.

If electricity prices rise payback time will be longer, not shorter. As the retail price reaches parity with the FIT the payback time stretches towards infinity, and if you are stuck with the FIT contract even if electricity prices exceed the nominal cost of production from your installation you'll be paying more than everyone else is.

I've never worked out why the detractors prefer the main methods of electricity generation, namely coal-fired uglies, nuclear-polluters or relatively neat but inefficient-use-of gas generators - they're a) efficient (significantly moreso than any other methods currently devised, I'd be intrigued to learn who told you otherwise - maybe the same source that spun the line about transmission losses?), b) provide continuous consistent power and c) are required to back up intermittent and variable power from renewables. PVs and windmills are not efficient and incapable of contributing to a base load requirement. They require 100% back up from proper power stations, all of the time.

All that said, would I install PV's if they became cost effective without regressive taxation? Probably not. Making your own electricity, unless you can get paid stupid money for it, is at heart a hair shirt activity like making your own bricks and whittling your own bicycle. Ricardo rules.
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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2011, 11:51:17 AM »
I agree that at the moment, the current means are not necessarily as efficient as they need to be, or as productive as they need to be - but we need to pursue this technology to reduce the number of coal guzzlers etc as possible.

A good example is with regenerative braking on trains. the TOC's will often talk about it as the green revolution, but this is a really green project.
The trains formerly produced by Bombardier at Derby, for example, when used in a correctly timetabled service - could produce enough electricity through breaking in rush hour to power up all the offices opening up in London, heating, computers switching on, lights switching on etc - whilst also contributing significantly to their own power needs.

This is not an expensive folly - for years trains using frictionless brakes have been offloading the electricity produced during braking as heat from resistors - pumping heat into the atmosphere. Not any more - and they've also reduced their reliance on the coal guzzlers etc. Work out how many electric trains operate around the world, and you begin to see what a huge benefit this could be to power generation and reduction in heat being pumped into the atmosphere.

Will it ever work on a per home use? Not sure, but on an industrial scale - there clearly is scope for improvement.

Offline Jonathan

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2011, 08:02:21 AM »
Did some work for a company doing specialist electrical installations.  They refuse to install PVs on ethical grounds.  MD reckons they will become the next big case of misselling with all the "compensation" that involves.  His view of the figures are that they are somewhat optimistic based on clean cells.  And cleaning them effectively may cost around £1,000 per year (£20 a week).  Maybe more TBH.

I think the feed in tariff effectively disguises the fact that they don't work.  If they did then you wouldn't have to pay people to use them.  Installing many more instances of cells that don't work doesn't produce cells that suddenly do work - it subsidises the production of ones that don't.

Maybe get them right before installing all over the country?  But then all the 20,000 people working in a brand new industry that didn't exist a year ago will be looking for work.  Hmm......
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Offline Graham

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2011, 08:10:31 PM »
    Well, thanks for all the comments folks. I supose if I did'nt have concerns I would'nt have asked.
    I feel uneasy about the " Your paid X amount for every unit you produce, even if you use it yourself" bit. How sustainable is that?
    Plus the cost of replacing inverters etc. Plus I suspect the panles we put in would be old technology in a couple of years.
    I think I have too many doubts to take them up on their kind offer.
    Thanks for the help and , of course any other contributions are very welcome.
                   Graham.  :tup:
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Offline Oldboy

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Re: Solar Panels?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2011, 11:06:01 PM »
Suggest you wait a few years, as there are newer ones coming on the market that, will last longer and are more efficient.  :tup: :tup:

 

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