Solar Update

September 19, 2010 | Filed under: solar

I’ve been working for hours on the campaign, so this is my break:

I emailed the solar company yesterday and finally said yes. That is the end result of a long torturous period of talking to different companies about potential installations, and looking at a total of 4 different roof locations, before eventually sadly concluding that they would have to be ground mounted.

What I’ve said yes to is an array of 10 PV  panels, in 2 groups of 5, in a portrait orientation, so as to minimise the width of the array, as the shading from the trees and the house take place at each end at the start and end of the day, thus minimzing overall shading. This means the array is likely to be about 5 meters by 3 meters in size, and means there is less room for parking, which is fine because this is the money I’d otherwise have bought a newer car with anyway :D

The panels themselves will be schuco MPE 215 (215watt) modules. The inverter will be a sunny boy, with a remote monitoring system called a sunny beam. If I can find out how to code a blog page widget to show current solar output, I will :D.

The installers (no doubt optimistic) estimate is for it to generate 2.15kwp which is 1,792KWH per year. Thats £740.19 in feed in tariff and a saving of roughly £268.33 per year. Thats a total of £1,009.02 per year on an investment of roughly £11k. Thats a ROI of  9.1%, or ‘much better than any bank account’. Now you see why I’m doing it :D If the power generated was 50% lower, it’s *still* a good investment…

HOWEVER. All this assumes that I get a) Listed Building consent and b) Planning permission. I am optimistic, but planning people can be very prickly. Quite *why* anyone could object to them is beyond me as you can only see the site from physically in our garden, plus they don’t even touch the house. I’m still nervous about getting an answer though.

I’ve wanted solar panels for about 10 years now, but I won’t believe it’s really happening until I have them working. The plus side to all this is the proposed site is right outside my office window, which is kinda cool.

Now back to debugging…

10 Responses to “Solar Update”

  1. Paul says:

    Hmmm. Isn’t ROI usually the amount made on top of the original investment, presuming you can liquidate? You can start rolling around McScrooge-like in your piles of solar generated cash in 11 years. Return on Expense maybe? :)

    Help me with the math though, how do you get from kilowatt-peak to kwh? They are paying 60c feed-in here per , so I am trying to work out what that means in cash.

  2. Stephen says:

    cliffski, as Paul says, your ROI calculation is incorrect because you have not accounted for your £11k capital loss.

    One way of doing this, assuming the solar panel is going to last 30 years, would be to say that the £11k equates to a £367 loss per year (11000 / 30), which should be subtracted from your £1009 income to get a net profit of £642 per year, or 5.8%.

    This is still pretty good, but not quite as good as you originally thought :)

  3. cliffski says:

    Absolutely, I’m hideously aware of the capital investment :D
    However, the idea that the panels stop generating on year 30 is unlikely. They have a power output guarantee of (I think) 80-90% at 20 years, so the total usable lifetime of them, given zero moving parts is likely to be way longer.
    There are 1970s solar panels that are still generating power today.
    Also my calculations assumed that electricity costs never rise in real terms in the UK, a country running out of coal and oil that has failed to invest in renewable energy. Methinks that may not be true :D

  4. mrstarware says:

    I’m just curious with the investment rates. What kind of dollar/pound per costumer rate do you get? Perhaps you’re going for a more secure investment which should work out in most eventualities, (you go to work for a AAA studio for oodles of cash, lecture somewhere about video game design etc) or maybe are just going for the green investment which you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I would think you’d get more money out of google ads or TV ad spots for 11000 pounds…?

  5. cliffski says:

    It’s true that I might get a decent investment for 11k on ads, but it’s also possible to spend 11k and get nothing. What I’m partially planning on here, is to buy some piece of mind. Solar PV is like buying 25 years worth of electricity in advance. Not to be sneezed at with the future of power generation so uncertain.

  6. Arowx says:

    Cool, nice one.

    Hope it goes well, any other eco plans?

  7. OndrejSc says:

    The energy of the Sun is NOT renewable. You’re just postponing the perpetual motion solution.

  8. Toby says:

    did you take into account that you don’t live in southern france and that this IS Britain you’re living in :)

    I still think Geothermal is the way to go.

    The new OS HQ has its own geothermal plant and the UKs only plant in Southampton has been a massive success.

    See the watermelons case study
    http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/climate/case-study-southampton

  9. Moose says:

    Can’t you mount them a little bit higher and park the car under them?

  10. Thomas says:

    With all your solar power talk, I thought you might find this interesting: http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/power-density/