Solar takes advantage of a free and powerful energy source – the sun.
In a single hour, the sun transmits more energy to the earth's surface than the world uses in a year.
Solar converts this energy into electricity, making it a simple, clean and cost-effective way to power our lives. It’s dependable, too – because unlike fossil fuels, the sun’s energy is unlimited.
Just imagine what that could do for your wallet, your bottom line and the environment.
Placed on roofs or on the ground, solar panels capture the sunlight and convert it into electricity.
And you don’t need to live somewhere warm and sunny, because solar needs only light not heat. Even the UK gets 60% of the sunlight (or solar radiation) found at the Equator.
It’s true that the more light the panels receive, the more electricity they can generate. But they still work on cloudy days – just as a solar-powered calculator does.
Their full name is solar photovoltaic panels, or PV. (“Photo” means “light” and “volts” means electricity.) At Solarcentury, we usually just say “solar” for short.
You’ve probably seen solar panels on roofs, or maybe on the ground. The panels are frames made up of solar (PV) cells (these are layers of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon – a handy fact for your next quiz show).
The best conditions for solar:
There are so many reasons, it’s difficult to summarise…
Unlimited and reliable
At the moment we rely on fossil fuels, and increasingly on imports. But the sun’s energy is unlimited, so it’s a secure source of power for the future.
When electricity providers hike up their prices, the sun keeps shining for free. Solar panels produce energy from daylight, so they still work on overcast days. You can generate your own free power, and stop worrying about soaring bills.
With government tariffs and payback schemes, you can earn money from producing solar power – even if you use it all yourself. It’s low-risk, with predictable year-on year-yields giving you a better rate of return than an ISA! Learn more about the financial incentives.
Solar is fuss-free, easy to install and very low-maintenance. The power from the panels is warrantied for 25 years and expected to continue generating for many years beyond its guaranteed life. All you need to get started is a building or some land – and it’s quiet, with little visual impact.
Unlike fossil fuels which create harmful air pollution and global warming, electricity created from the sun is clean. So a typical home with solar could save a tonne of carbon dioxide a year, while an acre of solar could save an amazing 10,000 tonnes.
An investment to be proud of
The UK government has committed to generate 15% of the UK’s energy from renewable sources by 2020 – but by 2010, the UK had only reached 3.2% of its target. By choosing solar, you make an investment you can be proud of and show you’re commitment to clean, renewable energy. What’s more, you’ll be supporting British installers and the UK economy in these tough times.
Of course we’re all concerned when the government makes changes to renewable incentives – but as energy prices rise and solar panel prices fall, solar is still a wise investment. The proof is in the numbers.
What’s more, you’ll be independent from rising electricity costs.
It’s a government policy introduced in 2010 to encourage the uptake of renewable energy in the UK. It rewards you for any energy you generate from a solar installation, regardless of whether you use the electricity or not.
The income is guaranteed for 20 years and is index-linked, meaning it will go up each year with inflation. If electricity prices go up more than inflation – which they have for the past decade – your savings would grow even quicker. And unlike many other investments, it’s also tax-free for homeowners.
See how the numbers look compared with an ISA:
|Solar PV||Cash ISA|
|Income + savings year 1||£660||£180|
|20 year profit||£12,775||£5000|
|Return on investment||13%||3.3%|
Having recently retired, David wanted to stabilise his bills. He installed solar panels onto his home and is thrilled with the results.
The estimated payback figures are based on the below assumptions, true at time of publication:
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From the end of March 2014, the Feed-in-Tariff will only be available for solar systems that meet the new rigorous demands of MCS 012. To date, only five products have received certification and three of the certificates...
The UK Government argues today that the incentives are too generous for solar compared with offshore wind. But they fail to take into account value for money and could jeopardise UK investment.