Archive for the ‘Solar’ Category
More than 5 million households in the UK have already installed solar panels. This number is set to grow even further in the next few years, with experts estimating that by 2020 almost 40 per cent of the UK’s annual electricity needs could be covered by solar panels. However, to reach this goal in the next few years, there needs to be a shift in the market’s perception of higher efficiency models.
Many installers in the UK still prefer the 250 watt modules and are hesitant to switch to higher efficiency modules. Our conversations with installers have shown that the key reasons for this are:
- In the UK, the solar incentive scheme supports smaller systems and PV systems with up to 4kWp get the highest feed-in tariffs in the country
- The solar market is still young (despite being a rapidly growing market), so people stick to what they know – 250 watt modules
- Price – modules with higher wattage are still slightly more expensive despite the narrowing price gap
These key myths can all be debunked. According to the DECC PV statistics, around70 per cent of domestic installations within the 4 KWp boundary are in fact smaller than 4 KWp, using less than the required 16 panels.
Consequently, for households with less roof space it would make more sense to go for higher efficiency panels such as 280 KWp to get most out of their system and be eligible for the highest feed-in tariffs. Despite a higher initial investment for these solar modules, they will pay themselves off more quickly. Throughout the day, these solar modules produce significantly more energy – this means higher pay back if the energy is sold to the grid or lower costs if the households energy consumption is very high.
Apart from return on investment, longevity is usually the most important factor for potential customers when considering buying a solar system. Solar systems are a longterm investment and customers therefore need to be knowledgeable about the best available quality and output. It is an installer’s responsibility to carefully evaluate the best solution for their customers to achieve optimal efficiency and performance with the available roof space.
Finding the best solutions for clients and offering the most efficient solar modules does not only benefit the customer. By adopting the latest modules and switching to high efficiency systems, installers have the opportunity to distinctly differentiate from their competitors. They are offering their customers a better product than the competition and can position themselves as solar experts. Ultimately, it’s all about customer satisfaction – and customers will definitely be satisfied with considerably higher yields over as much as 25 years and longer.
In the end, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Choosing a system depends on a number of factors such as sun exposure, roof size or budget. However, if the circumstances are right, then a higher efficiency system would be a better choice as it produces more energy and generates a higher return on investment. It is not a case of picking the best solar system, but rather enabling customers to make educated choices by giving them options and informing them about the diversity of the solar market.
Solar technology is at the heart of the renewable energy debate and has been a key source of new electricity generation for the last few years, especially in Europe. Private households and businesses are looking at ways to take more control over energy production for both environmental and cost saving reasons.
The most recent rise in demand for solar modules has been mainly driven by two markets, the UK and Japan, accounting for more than one-third of the overall solar photovoltaics demand. However, the findings also show that this trend in the solar market could be shortlived, as Germany is expected to lead the rankings again by the end of 2014. German household electricity costs are the highest across Europe and almost all countries facing steep rises in energy bills, alternative ways to generate energy are becoming ever more popular.
However, the population is taking some convincing. Two of the most prominent obstacles in the energy market are a high level of uncertainty among potential customers and the persistent belief that photovoltaic energy is expensive.
On the contrary, over the last few years solar panels have become much more efficient, providing an improved price-to-value ratio, which has almost closed the gap with grid prices. Previously, breaking even financially took years and only made minimal, if any, difference to energy bill costs.
The sourcing and production of solar photovoltaic modules and systems has also evolved, allowing for a steady price decrease over the years. Bi-facial cells, for example, capture the light reflected from the back sheet onto the cell back side. These high performance cells not only increase solar energy yield, allowing for more energy to be generated from small rooves – but also to enhance the financial return for the user.
The second obstacle, uncertainty, is mainly caused by the differing political environments across Europe. Governments have rolled back support for renewable energies in general and the photovoltaic industry in particular.
While the British government too has reduced its feed-in tariff subsidy, this does not mean confidence in the solar industry is waning, rather a sign that the industry is now robust enough to need less and less government support to survive. The stability of the UK market allow the industry to grow steadily, instilling much needed confidence in investors.
The growth of the market has been extraordinary. Solar power has been the biggest source of new electricity generation for two consecutive years and further growth is on the horizon. This shows that the market is in good shape already. With growing markets, we can expect further consolidation resulting in more competitive prices and ultimately, cheaper solar panels. The cost of modules and installation will continue to decrease.
Competition will continue to be an important factor fuelling innovation and development in the sector. While we will see further consolidation in the market, cost competitiveness will become a key element in the solar market of the future. Firstly, companies will have to offer competitive prices for their products and services to stay ahead of the competition. Secondly, by producing higher efficiency products in larger batches, prices will continue to decrease eventually reaching parity with retail electricity prices.
Even though there is still a need for subsidies in some of the markets, the photovoltaic industry is now becoming independent from financial support and its impressive pace of growth shows that it is robust enough to survive in the future. Further consolidation, price competition and innovation will lead to higher-efficiency products that are more affordable than ever for businesses and home-owners. Thus overcoming one of the most challenging obstacles at the moment, the persistent belief that solar modules are expensive, and allowing the market to continue to thrive.
The combination of solar modules with an ‘electronic brain’ is going to create the truly ‘smart’ home, offering more exciting opportunities. But, before that, solar energy storage solutions must, and will become an essential part of the photovoltaic industry of the future. The fact that in Germany more than 4,000 applications for such storage solutions have already been approved, shows that solar is not only close to grid parity but close to becoming independent from the grid. The future is already here.