23 Nov 2011 11:11:31
It's not all about the feed-in tariff for solar panels
An Ecosource Solutions view on utilising solar electricity in your Devon home.
Because the initial rate of feed-in tariffs were set so high, most customers could realise a great financial return based entirely on generation payments with a complete disregard for the comprehension of how to best utilise the 'free' electricity generated. The rate reduction on 12 December for generation FiT payments will give rise to a new breed of green customer in the South West (Devon, Cornwall and Somerset) who will have to be more cautious with the generated electricity and find smarter ways of using the electricity to get ther very best out of their solar photovoltaic investment.
Even with the new feed-in-tariff rates of 21p coming into force, a good return on your solar PV system can still be made. We are seeing that new customers to Ecosource Solutions are still set to achieve an ROI on their solar panels of around 7–10% which is fantastic!
However, the primary goal for any renewable energy project (solar photovoltaic, wind, hydro, etc) should be to generate as much electricity as possible, and, secondary to this, should be a real drive to utilise as much of the freely generated electricity as possible. Traditionally, over the course of a year approximately 25%–35% of the generated electricity is consumed within the property with the majority of the generated electricity being exported automatically when generation is higher than usage.
Therefore, by using as much of the generated electricity as possible and limiting the export of superfluous electricity, you save money and thus reduce your dependence centralised on energy from the public grid network and, as energy costs continue to rise out of control over the coming months and years, on rising energy costs too.
Energy management and export control devices limit the amount of exported electricity as the energy is redirected to appliances which could store electricity; for example, an emersion hot water cylinder or an electric car.
Another alternative would be to store the surplus electricity in batteries which enable the end user to draw on the stored power when the electricity is required.
The costs associated with storing generated electricity are still relatively high and this practice is very uncommon, I personally would like to see a larger solar PV system on my roof in Devon with clever energy management technology.