Solar panels and United Kingdom?

While enjoying a pint during a country walk, I was distracted by a conversation occurring behind me about solar panels.

Do solar panels work well in the United Kingdom?

Do solar panels work well in the United Kingdom?

Interested to hear a stranger’s point of view about my beloved subject, I kept an ear on the conversation whilst admiring the beautiful Welsh countryside around me.

It didn’t take long for the conversation to steer around the effectiveness of solar technology within our varied British climate.

Resisting the urge to break my silence and introduce myself as an enthusiast for solar panels, I listened carefully to the conversation as the eldest of the two gentlemen begin to sing the usual myths surrounding this technology.

The classic line of “solar doesn’t work well in our climate” didn’t take long to surface. Still resisting the urge to turn around and join the conversation, I was surprised to hear the youngest chap begin to re-educate his peer.

“Well yes, it does have this stigma attached, but why are so many people now adopting it” came the reply. Exactly, I thought, excitedly.

“Because the government is paying people too” replied the sceptical voice. Ah-ha! Came the youngest response, “So if the government is willing to promote and help people install this technology actively, then they have obviously done their facts and figures and figure it’s worth doing, even in this country”.

Bravo, my inner voice shouted out. Without any intervention, I heard a genuine breakdown as to not only the effectiveness of solar technology, and its growth potential for a world coming to terms with unaffordable resources, and all this before I had even reached halfway on my deliciously refreshing pint.

Half a pint later

At this crucial halfway point, I decided to introduce myself and my knowledge of the solar panel subject. It turns out that Gavin and his father were also having a ‘quick one’ before going to a family meet up, but more interestingly, Gavin had already decided to get a solar panel installation added to his home and was waiting for his planned solar installation in three weeks time.

I don’t remember drinking the last half of my pint because I was so engrossed in my bus man’s holiday conversation with Gavin and his dad, but what did come from this discussion, was the generational gap surrounding the myth about solar’s effectiveness.

As both Gavin and I explained, not only has this technology improved in efficiency alongside a reduction in costs but also the reasons for adopting have also changed in a short period.

And this was the crux of my tipsy debate, the long-term lifespan of solar panels is so high (30-40 years) that you can’t even comprehend yet, what the world will be like in thirty years time. One thing assured is that your solar panels will still be working for you even then.

Only a decade ago, we were all still enjoying cheaper energy bills, cheap petrol and yes, back then solar technology would have seemed silly, but year on year, the outlook for our energy-hungry lives seems to become more and more precarious (with or without Shale Gas).

The ability to visualise a further decade into the future can only be a guess at best, but the only certainty that is guaranteed will be the indiscriminate rising costs to heat and power our homes for the majority of this country’s population.

I vaguely remember explaining how even Scotland is now one of the biggest adopters in our country, the solar radiation map of Britain and general outputs of popular system sizes with expected feed-in tariff revenues.

I congratulated Gavin on his foresightedness, and his father was indeed sold on the idea too. He said he will undoubtedly see them now in a different light (pun intended I think) and would watch the installation with great interest.

In a quiet pub in North Wales, I witnessed the conflict of opinion even within family members, but I also saw how easy it is to change opinion, once I presented the correct information.


"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2013-07-23
Founder of Power My Home.