Solar shenanigans part I

August 26, 2010 | Filed under: solar

I’m aiming, at some point, to get some solar panels installed on my house. This may sound like some middle class hippy luxury, but nay! it is not so. The last UK government spent 12 years ignoring the environment and hoping it would go away, then flipped out and introduced a feed-in-tariff that makes micro-generation a no-brainer. 41.3p per unit of generated power, whether you use it or not. It only costs 11p to actually buy power at peak time, so I assume the civil servant responsible was just drunk. There again, they don’t tend to care how they spend our money.

Basically, even if you are Karl Rove, or the chairman of Exxon and think Climate Change is a fairy story, you would still be insane if you had a south facing roof and you didn’t install solar panels on it. Even if you had to borrow the money, it can make financial sense (because the payback is likely to be higher than the loan interest). As it happens, I am a big fan of renewable energy and have lusted after the idea of solar PV for probably 10 years now. Anyway… I *do* have a south facing roof, so it should be a no brainer right?
WRONG!

Firstly, I live in a ‘listed building‘ which means I have to bake cakes and make tea for the local planning consent officer (who is younger than me! FFS!) and beg and grovel for permission to do this. Secondly, The south facing roof is great, but its made out of corrugated metal (really!) and we aren’t sure it would support the weight. Cue structural survey for £200. Bah…

Thirdly, we have a rather huge, and impressive oak tree in the garden. A garden that slopes south and upwards, so that the tip of the tree just shades part of the potential panels. For boring reasons, even minor shading on solar is an efficiency disaster. We *do* have 4 (I counted them) other locations where the panels could go, as there is a garage, blah blah. And after 3 days of taking photos every 2 hours (when there was some sun…) and lots of staring at them, I concluded that only 1 of them is really a viable site (metal roof ville). So I’m finally at the point where I’ve booked a strcutural survey to turn up and check the roof.

If the guy tells me it won’t support the panels, I’m going to stab him with my D’k-tagh and invoke the vengeance of kahless on the world…

(I’m playtesting the campaign game. It has ship maintenance costs in now, and is getting more and more stable.)

7 Responses to “Solar shenanigans part I”

  1. Brad says:

    They’re going to use the roof to support the panels? Wouldn’t they attach some supports to the roof beams and run them through the roofing material? That’s what they do here in Australia (tiled or corrugated tin roof doesn’t matter).

  2. Jinksy says:

    Does the ship maintenance include a tariff on solar panels. :-p

  3. cliffski says:

    Normally here in the UK they just get bolted to the roof. Maybe ours are generally stronger?

  4. Toby says:

    sorry, I’m I the only one who miss-read that as ‘stab him in the D’K-tagh’ and winced.

    do they even have to be ‘on’ a building, if you have the land why not stick them in the corner of the garden?

  5. cliffski says:

    On the ground would be cheaper, (although also easier to steal), but the problem then is shading. The house casts a big shadow over those bits of garden where the aforemetioned tree doesn’t cast shadow.
    This ugly metal roof is the only ‘mostly unshaded all day’ option.

  6. Mentat says:

    Have you had a look on http://www.ashadegreener.co.uk ? They’re one of a few companies installing solar panels for free, including the survey. I believe they’re only doing certain areas at the moment, but typing in your postcode on the site should tell you whether it’s worth enquiring.

    The main requirements they’re looking for are a mostly south-facing roof and around 25sq metres of roof space.

  7. cliffski says:

    Yup, but they take the feed-in-tariff, and they have it for 25 years, meaning if you sell your house, you have to point out that “yup, the roof has been rented to someone else for the next 20 years”. That sounds like a bureuacratic nightmare.
    Plus, if putting them on my roof is a profitable thing to do, i want the profit. I’ve had enough middle-men with games publioshers as it is :D