Homeowner Blog

Erica Charles

Managing Director of Spirit Energy.

Recent Posts

Are Solar Panels Worth It in 2020? Yes, Solar Power Costs 8p/kWh!

Erica Charles 25 Jun 2020

Last year saw the Feed-in Tariff closed to new applicants, leaving a very different landscape to the heady days of 2010, when the Feed-in Tariff scheme was first launched and the subsidy was around 43p per kWh. In October, 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 fallen, but so has the cost of the technology. 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 6% in the last 12 months...).

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Topics: Financing, Solar PV

The Great Climate Experiment

Erica Charles 26 Mar 2020

In just a few short weeks, the world has become unrecognisable. Flights are grounded, whole countries are on lockdown and few can remember the last time they saw pasta.

With the coronavirus spreading across the globe, and the lockdown imposed by many governments in response, we are living through unprecedented times. While 2020 was set to be the ‘year of climate action’, it will now be remembered as the year of the pandemic. But actually, albeit by default rather than design (and whether you agree with it or not...), for a few weeks now the lockdown has allowed a glimpse into how we might re-model life as we previously knew it to create a world in which the environment and our species can co-exist in improved harmony.

Certainly we are witnessing a test that no politician would dare to sponsor in the name of improving the environment.

Here are some of the key environmental impacts of the coronavirus lockdown:

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Celebrating 10 Years of Spirit Energy

Erica Charles 28 Jan 2020

Today is a big day at Spirit Energy.

It’s our 10th anniversary.

Most importantly we are celebrating with a big cake, but we have also taken time to review some of the milestones reached within the last 10 years, both at Spirit and within the wider community, focusing on cleaner air, climate change mitigation and sustainable fuel supply.

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Topics: Battery storage, EV charging, 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. Elon Musk 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 1000 installations a week in America, so what can we expect?

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Topics: In roof solar panels, BIPV, Solar PV

The Carbon Footprint of a Solar Panel

Erica Charles 27 Sep 2019

In the wake of the largest climate protests the world has ever seen, we have dug a little deeper in our own back yard to assess the ‘life time’ carbon footprint of a solar system...

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Topics: 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 de-commissioned 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 whilst 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

Power Cut? Not My Problem... Tesla Powerwall's Solar Panel Backup Is Finally On Its Way...

Erica Charles 01 Mar 2019

The long-awaited Powerwall 2 backup capability is ‘on the water’, with the first wave of deliveries expected in April.  There’s a two stage roll-out, based on the type of earthing system required. Stage 2 will be in August.

If you are familiar with the Powerwall system, you will know that the system consists of the Powerwall unit itself, which houses the battery and the inverter, along with a ‘gateway’ which provides remote connectivity.

The original gateway, ‘GW 1’, was a plastic fronted box providing remote connectivity to the system.

From April this will be upgraded to a new gateway, GW 2, a stylish frosted glass-fronted ‘mini’ version of Powerwall 2, measuring 380mm wide x 580mm tall x 127mm deep, and weighing 9.8kg.  It is IP55 rated, so suitable for outdoors, and can be padlocked to stop any unwanted access.

The main purpose of the gateway upgrade is to enable ‘backup’ capability so that the homeowner can still power their home in a power cut.

So confident is Tesla that all customers will want the new backup enabled system, that they are actually expecting to discontinue GW 1 altogether, even though GW 1 offers a lower cost entry point into the Powerwall 2 system.

Tesla has certainly done its research. According to the company, in the nine month period 18/6/18 – 18/2/19 there were 93,965 unique power cut incidents in the UK, typically lasting between 15 mins and 4 hours and impacting 2 million customers. Anyone with a solar panel backup system in place would be smiling now....

[Apparently there are 22,200  online searches for "Schadenfreude" every month in the UK.  I wonder if Mr Musk has checked that stat out ....]

 

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Topics: Battery storage, Solar PV, Tesla Powerwall