If you’ve spent much time trying to find the best energy deal, you may have come across the term ‘time of use tariffs’. It’s more exciting than it sounds - if you’re interested in Britain’s evolving energy system.
Since solar panels are static, there’s little to actually, well, see when they’re generating. Sure, it’s nice to start receiving smaller energy bills but, if you’re like most of our customers, you’ll want to dig into the performance data every now and then.
As well as checking when the most solar power is being generated (a useful reminder to turn on the dishwasher and make the most of that free electricity), solar monitoring is great for reviewing past output and comparing performance. Sudden drops can indicate faults that need fixing, or help assess if it’s worth giving the panels a clean.
Wondering which solar PV monitoring solutions are the best? Read on...
Last February, when the world was a very different place, Spirit installed SunPower panels in the roof of my new home - read all about the installation process here.
So it’s been just over a year now that I’ve been living with solar panels. Although not the best of years, it has been nice to work from home to maximise the use of my own solar energy. But how is my PV system doing? Has it performed anywhere near what my quote promised? And how have my behaviour, bills and carbon footprint changed?
We talk a lot about time of use tariffs, but now there’s a new kid on the block - type of use tariffs. The first of these has been announced by energy supplier OVO and is designed to reward EV owners with lower cost car charging.
Think back to the last time you took the Tube, ran beside a congested road, or walked in rural wilderness. Air pollution is tangible, in a way that perhaps other planet-harming emissions aren’t, and so the benefits of tackling it can be more apparent and immediate.
Public Health England says that ‘Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.’ Long term exposure to air pollution can affect the lungs and heart with chronic diseases and cancer. Short term exposure can exacerbate asthma and affect lung function. In total it’s estimated that air pollution is responsible for 28,000-36,000 premature deaths a year in the UK.
What can we do about it? Air pollution is a huge topic with many interconnected causes and solutions. So in particular, we’re going to take a look at EVs and air quality, asking: how do electric cars reduce pollution?
Recent years have seen significant shakeups to the economics of solar power. Since the Feed-in Tariff closed to new applicants in 2019, photovoltaics are no longer subsidised. Later that year, solar tax rates also got a shakeup, meaning not every installation is eligible for 5% VAT. So, are solar panels worth it today?
Speaking purely from a financial point of view, the answer is a resounding yes. Of course beyond the financial, there are many other environmental benefits to be gained from installing solar, installing residential battery storage, driving an electric vehicle etc. Not least because they all contribute directly or indirectly to tackling air pollution and the climate crisis.
Back to the financials. The solar subsidy may have ended, but the cost of the technology has fallen by more than 50% over the past decade. Overall the cost of domestic solar electricity is now around 8p per kWh. This is well below the 16p average domestic import cost from the grid (which, by the way, increased by an average 4.75% each year over the past decade...).
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) has now been in effect for over a year, since it came into law on January 1st 2020. It’s the mechanism to ensure solar PV owners are paid for the power they send to the grid, ending the policy void that existed since the Feed-in Tariff closed to new applicants in March 2019.
According to the SEG, energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers must offer an export tariff with a rate greater than zero. The SEG is available for customers with an MCS-certified renewable energy system under 5MW and a second generation smart meter.
With zero as the minimum, at the very least you can’t be charged for being relieved of excess solar power. However, suppliers don’t have to give you very much for it. So how much are they offering in practice?
One of the great things about solar power is how scalable the technology is; you can generate electricity on top of an individual streetlamp or a vast solar farm. When it comes to residential PV, we often just think of rooftop arrays, but recently we have seen a rise in interest in domestic ground mounted solar panels.
The main benefit of ground mounts, if you have the land, is that you can choose the optimal orientation to maximise solar generation, which isn’t possible with an existing rooftop. It’s also a great option if your roof isn’t strong enough to support the weight of a solar array. In a ground mount, panels are fixed to a metal frame, which is secured by concrete or pile-driven foundations. But what else do you have to consider?
Topics: Solar PV
It will come as no surprise to hear that we are passionate about renewable energy. Our mission here at Spirit Energy has always been to support every building in becoming its own sustainable micro power station, generating and utilising as much of its own clean energy on site as possible.
As we move towards a net zero carbon society, it’s essential that we build zero carbon homes. But what exactly does this mean? And what is the best way to incorporate renewable technologies when building your new house?
This time last year we were celebrating Spirit’s 10th birthday. Little did we know how soon everything would change.
Despite the extraordinary challenges of 2020, we are pleased to report that Spirit is still going strong and our team is as dedicated as ever to making our world a cleaner, greener, more sustainable place to live.