PV solar panel technology on trial

Amazingly, many people still hold the old worldview that PV solar panels (photovoltaic) are a wasted investment both personally and nationally.

This myth has never been further from the truth, as I will prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Today I will put solar panel technology on trial.

Your honour – One of the most significant injustices that the PV solar panel industry has had to endure during its fledgeling years, is the sticky issue of subsidies. Unfortunately, it’s under attack from the mainstream media that have their agendas.

The reality is that Britain has become the world’s fifth-largest user of fossil fuels at the cost of £2.6 billion with an additional £280m in VAT tax breaks this year alone. These perverse amounts of money are never mentioned alongside the comparatively small solar energy subsidies which the media above love to complain about.

For every £1 spent to support renewable energy, another £6 were spent on fossil fuel subsidies. The rising costs of what I describe as “treading water” will continue to raise energy costs far quicker than the comparatively small alternative technology subsidies.

The fossil fuel industry relies on customer inertia. A simple example of this is that almost 50% of consumers still pay their bills quarterly, the most expensive way. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people won’t research the actual benefits that adopting solar technology brings and only listen to the rhetoric of what I call fuddy-duddy journalism.

From talking to people with photovoltaic installations, the main thing that comes across is that they start to think about the energy they are creating in a way they never did before.

Ladies and gentlemen, of the jury, this type of thinking need to be expanded nationally too. Fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce energy security, and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of global warming.

Your honour – Alternative energy subsidies only account for 1/6th of the overall spending on our total energy subsidy spending and the benefits of those subsidies last for 25 years compared to just a few years at best for fossil fuel. Something that funnily never gets mentioned in the anti-solar propaganda machine.

Just a decade ago when I initially became interested in solar panel technology, it was a tiny and niche market. Today, however, homeowners, business, nations large and small are embracing solar panels to reduce dependence on an increasingly expensive resource.

Even by the energy industries own predictions, the average cost of heating and powering a home could rise to £2-3,000 annually by 2020. Why would anyone not be concerned about this?

Your honour – we are only the second decade of the 21st-century and already the most basic energy, essential for a modern-day living is for many unaffordable and still creeping up the social ladder. This reason is why individuals and nations adopt PV solar technology worldwide.

But still, some say that national investment in solar technology is a waste of money. I dispute this claim as outdated based on the facts I have presented to you today.

In fact, if your honour would like to see me after the trial, I can recommend some excellent installers who will bring you up to speed on the benefits of getting an installation fitted to your own home.

Solar panels and the countdown clock

“I love solar panel technology because they are such a very long-term proposition. In fact, there so long haul that long after your brand new Mercedes, BMW or other generic car has recycled into baked bean tins, solar panels will still be enthusiastically producing power.”

That’s why it perplexes me that some solar installation companies use a countdown clock on their websites to help market their services. The countdown clock implies time is limited and a hasty decision. In fact, the opposite is true.

This misleading form of marketing originated because of changes to the feed-in tariff rates during the 2011 tariff reconfiguration. The original tariff rate reduced in response to the tumbling costs of solar panels at that time.

The current rate of the feed-in tariff, i.e. 14.38p per kilowatt is in place until the 1/10/14 as detailed on the DECC website. Despite this, I still see some solar companies using a countdown clock to get their potential customers to make hasty decisions.

I have always advocated this window of opportunity, which current solar panel investors are enjoying, including low panel costs and higher incentive rates, compared to future investors who will see higher panel costs and lower incentive rates. However, I also campaign for a better industry to help solar pioneer’s get the best for their money.

Return on investment is linked to the price you pay for your solar panels, this means getting the right equipment at the right price. Panel types and accompanying supplemental material vary in their output abilities, so this will have much more of an impact on your overall investment potential than installing quickly with an installer which may be rushing you to do so with unsuitable technology.

The good news is you’ve plenty of time to do plenty of solar-related research, but even if any future decrease in tariff rate is triggered, this will mean your investment will still be a very sound one.

The good news is you’ve plenty of time to do plenty of solar-related research, but even if any future decrease in tariff rate is triggered, this will mean your investment will still be a very sound one.

The long-term future for the feed-in tariff will undoubtedly rest at a baseline production tariff figure at or around 11 pence per kWh (my prediction). This scheme would at least give future investors in solar panels a basic level of income, but in the meantime, the current higher level of 14.9 pence per kWh will make a gradual descent to my predictive baseline level, and so, the need for countdown clocks are entirely unnecessary in today’s solar industry.

As an energy-hungry world comes to terms with year on year prices rises, you will be sitting pretty long after your car is past its best with a PV solar panel installation.

But, keep calm, do your homework and always get three comparative quotes.

"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2014-06-12
Founder of Power My Home.