Earlier this year, the powers-that-be announced that the government cash subsidies for home installation of Solar Panels were going to be cut from 1st January 2016. These subsidies were put in place by a previous government to jump-start large and small solar farms and panels on roofs of domestic properties.
These subsidies make a lot of sense if government policy is one that is aimed towards making Great Britain independent for power generation, currently we import gas and electricity from from neighbouring countries.
Back in 2010, a typical Solar Panel installation would cost around £15,000, the government subsidy at the time would return the initial investment after around 10 years. Today installation of Solar Panels has reduced in cost considerably, and a system can be had for around £7,000. The government kept the subsidy aligned and the return on the investment would be around 10 years.
So without wanting to sound like a tree hugging hippy, installing Solar Power in 2015 still makes a lot of sense. We’ve heard stories of the savings being made resulting in return on the cost of the install being realised within 6 years. As electric cars become more mainstream and home charging of electric cars becomes more common, then the return on the financial investment will become shorter.
Imagine this, if you could pay £7,000 and have a petrol pump sitting on your driveway, and that petrol pump would deliver free fuel for your car for the next 20 years would you pay that £7,000? I know I would. Imagine next that the petrol pump would also fuel your home, run your washing machine plus heat your hot water? Oh, and you can also use the fuel to heat your house? Would that get you even more excited? Yes you can have this today, and as you have guess, it is Solar Power.
The UK Solar industry has totally missed the point is by not pressing home the real, true advantages of Solar Energy. The true advantage, well it’s free electricity to heat and run your home. This isn’t the fault of the individual Solar installation companies, rather the fault of the industry bodies that run the UK Solar industry.
Until recently, my own brush with Solar Power has been was door to door Solar Power Salesmen wanting to stick “free” Solar Panels on my roof (the catch with free Solar, the company keeps the subsidy and any spare electricity). Unless you are really sure that you want to do this, it is best to purchase the Solar System outright.
The Solar Energy business now has an opportunity to reinvent itself. Believe it or not battery powered electric cars will become the norm. Do you remember a time when petrol cars were the norm and diesels were unheard of? Well you are already surrounded by electric cars, they look like petrol cars and many sound like petrols cars – some manufacturers even install a loudspeaker so pedestrians can hear the approach of an almost silent electric car. Battery cars don’t smell like petrol cars. Actually, that is a lie, many electric cars smell like petrol cars, there are VW Golf’s and Ford Focus’ that have both a petrol engine and an electric battery pack that can be plugged in and recharged from a normal mains electricity socket. This type of car is called Plug-in Hybrid Petrol Engines (PHEV) vehicle and are popular with company car drivers due to income tax advantages.
So let us quell many of the half-truths and rumours about electrically powered cars:
- Range is too short: 270 miles on one charge is available right now, today, off the shelf
- The battery pack needs changing after a year: 100,000 miles has been stuffed onto a Nissan Leaf taxi, the battery still has full health.
- Battery powered cars are slow to accelerate: 2.8 seconds to 60mph seems okay, is available off the shelf today
- Electrically powered cars will never catch on: All the major car manufacturers are now adding electric cars to their production lines. Even VW (cough cough) have an electric plug-in hybrid version of the Passat.
- Electric cars are too expensive: Buying any new car is not a cheap experience, second-hand electric vehicles can be had for very reasonable prices.
- Electric car servicing is expensive: Battery only electric cars have less to go wrong under the bonnet, there aren’t any tappets to adjust, no camshafts to rattle, or fanbelts to break.
So why hasn’t the UK Solar Industry linked up with electric car manufacturers? If you have an electric car, you’d want to charge it from Solar Power? Electric car manufacturers have deals with the businesses that install a dedicated car charging port, the next step is for the UK Solar Industry to do the same.
So what will be the trigger for this link up to take place? Well the next time there is an oil crisis and fuel prices sky-rocket, the general public will be forced to move to electric vehicles. The recent VW #DieselGate fiasco has made governments sit up and pay attention to the real-world emissions that Diesel and Petrol cars push out and car manufacturers will be scrutinised like never before.
One negative aspect of Solar Energy is the a divide between the haves, and have-nots. Those that live in rented accommodation or cannot afford the installation of Solar Panels will pay considerably more for their electricity than those with a Solar Panel installation.
In case you’ve not guessed … we’re having a large Solar Panel system installed next month. Due to the orientation of our house, which is East/West, we’ll be in the enviable position of having free electricity available all day. More on this in the coming weeks.