Homeowner Blog

Erica Charles

Managing Director of Spirit Energy.

Recent Posts

Are Solar Panels Worth It in 2022? Yes, Solar Power Costs 10p/kWh!

Erica Charles · 23 Feb 2022

It’s now been three years since solar subsidies were phased out and tax rates first hiked, then dramatically scrapped. At the same time, electricity prices have continued to rise, especially during the recent energy crisis. So what does this mean for the economics of solar power? In short, 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 benefits, including energy independence and reduced air pollution.

Back to the financials. The solar Feed-in Tariff 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 9p per kWh. This is well below the 24.5p average domestic import cost from the grid (which, by the way, increased by an average 4.9% each year over the past decade...).

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Topics: Financing, Solar PV

Tesla Solar Roof: Tesla’s Roof Tiles Ready for Release?

Erica Charles · 02 Jan 2020

Another year has gone by with Tesla roof tiles as popular as ever in the public imagination, yet still mostly intangible. But that could all be about to change. Tesla has announced Solar Roof, the latest iteration of his solar tiles with promises of improved technology and scalability. The company is aiming to ramp up to 1,000 installations a week in America, so what can we expect?

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Topics: In roof solar panels, BIPV, Solar PV

Victor Kiam and the Tesla Powerwall: So Impressed I Bought the Company

Erica Charles · 12 Apr 2019

Yesterday I had my own modest version of a Victor Kiam moment.

If you are too young to remember Mr Kiam, spend 30 seconds watching this… Mr Kiam's famous line ‘I loved the shaver so much I bought the company’ was the cornerstone of a hugely successful 1979 advertising campaign.

Mr Kiam was swept away by the joy of a sharp shave. For me it was Tesla and the sheer passion with which they are pursuing their mission ‘to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy’.

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Topics: Battery storage, Tesla Powerwall

Solar Batteries and Smart Tariffs: Join the Revolution

Erica Charles · 05 Apr 2019

Around 30 GigaWatts of the UK’s older fossil fuel and nuclear capacity is due to be decommissioned by 2025. At the same time, more and more of us are taking delivery of our first electric car, pulling away from the lights much faster than the petrol heads while fuelling a significant increase in the national electricity demand.

Furthermore, with the advent of renewables, the problem of balancing supply and demand within the National Grid is become ever more challenging, leading to periods of excess demand and ‘negative electricity prices’. 

And with all this comes an increasing expectation of power cuts, grid constraints and increasing electricity costs.

Enter battery storage, and in particular, home battery storage. And smart meters, and smart electricity tariffs.

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Topics: Battery storage, Tariffs, Solar PV

Is Electricity Cheaper at Night?

Erica Charles · 28 Mar 2019

Is electricity cheaper at night?

If like me, your gut answer is ‘of course electricity is cheaper at night’, read on…

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Topics: Battery storage, Tariffs

SunPower Solar Panels: Maxeon 3 Breaks the 400W Barrier

Erica Charles · 17 Mar 2019

In January SunPower introduced the world’s first 400 Watt residential solar panels.

Utilising 104 Monocrystalline Maxeon Generation III solar cells, the panels have an efficiency of 22.6%. 

The panels have ‘standard’ panel dimensions of approximately 1.69m x 1.05m, giving an output of 226W per square metre.

As always with SunPower, the panels have a premium look…

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Topics: Solar PV

Spirit Energy’s New Toy: Free Battery Storage Calculator

Erica Charles · 08 Feb 2019

A few weeks ago we launched a Solar PV Calculator and wrote a blog about solar in a post subsidy world.

However, for many people looking at renewables, solar is only one part of the story. Increasingly, solar goes hand-in-hand with battery storage. And many of us are at least wondering whether we should switch to an electric car.

Finally, in 2019 we expect to see a proliferation of ‘time-of-use’ electricity tariffs from the utility companies, all aimed at transforming electricity demand and supply.

To handle all of this, we’ve been busy developing the all-singing-and-dancing calculator which looks at the package of solar, battery storage, electric car usage and choice of tariff. And of course if you are building your dream home, you'll probably be wanting a heat pump...

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Topics: Battery storage, Spirit Energy news, Calculator

Electric Car Charging Grants Only for Smart Chargers from July 2019

Erica Charles · 17 Jan 2019

The government says it wants the UK to be the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle.

To support this, it needs the National Grid to be smart, with a finely tuned set of tools available to balance demand and supply.

With this in mind, the government has announced that from July 2019, the grant of £350 per chargepoint available for home and workplace chargepoints will only be given to people installing smart chargers to charge their electric car.

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Topics: Financing, EV charging

Government Proposes New Export Tariff Scheme for Solar

Erica Charles · 11 Jan 2019

When the government announced in 2018 that it would close the Feed-in Tariff scheme with effect from 31st March 2019, it failed to put in place any replacement for the Export Tariff. Small scale solar PV systems installed after 31st March were likely to end up exporting excess solar generation to the grid for free.

Not surprisingly there was uproar within the industry at this prospect.

In response, the government has this week launched a consultation on the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

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Topics: Tariffs, Solar PV

The End of the Solar PV Export Tariff: Solar’s Turn to Subsidise the Grid?

Erica Charles · 07 Dec 2018

Back in July, the government announced its intention to close the Feed-in Tariff Scheme to new entrants from 31st March 2019.  The Export Tariff was scrapped at the same time, thus placing owners of small scale solar systems installed after 1st April 2019 in a position whereby they could find themselves exporting excess solar electricity to the Grid for free.

Not surprisingly the idea of the homeowner installing solar only to find themselves subsidising the Big 6 with free exported solar electricity has caused something of an outcry in the solar industry…

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Topics: Tariffs, Solar PV