If you live in Scotland, you may have noticed the sudden flurry of solar panels on residents’ rooftops over the past decade. With the increasing importance of sustainable living, interest in this green energy source has soared.
Solar Panel technology has certainly come a long way since the 1970’s. Currently, there are two dominant technologies used for solar panels:
Photovoltaic (Solar PV) – converts solar energy into electricity and uses it to power household electrical products/lighting.
Solar Thermal – heats water that helps significantly to reduce heating bills.
Have you considered becoming a part of Solar Powered Scotland?
The government was backing solar energy in Scotland via the Energy Saving’s Scotland Home Renewables Grant. Unfortunately, this scheme concluded in 2010 but there is a new one that in its place.
If you are running a business or building a housing scheme, up to £150,000 may be granted to install solar panels and acquire solar energy.
The government’s financial support for Solar Power in Scotland is not as strong as it once was, however, loans of up to £2,000 are being offered on a first come first serve basis. These loans are interest-free, providing it is the home-owners primary residence. If you are a builder you can take a loan on behalf of the customer.
Is Solar Energy Right For Me?
You should first carefully consider whether your house is suitable for solar energy, calculations can be made using this handy solar calculator.
You will need at least a Grade D Energy certificate to make your money back in good time. These certificates define how efficient your house is at generating electricity. You will need to find an accredited assessor to provide this. The Scottish government provides further guidance on this matter.
Otherwise, you can make improvements to your house in order to obtain a Grade D or greater rating. Once you have achieved this rating, you are guaranteed to receive feed-in payments for the next 20 years.
Bear in mind, a south-facing house, roof or area is important to catch the best of the suns rays. Though any decent amount of Solar Energy in Scotland may seem unlikely, you can rest assured the rays will shine through the grey.
There are also specific ways to use your solar panels for maximum efficiently. If you are using most of your appliances in the daytime when there is more daylight, you will not need to buy as much power from the Grid. Also, by staggering your appliances to run on different time schedules, they will not absorb more power than is being generated.
Once you have paid off any loans on your solar panels, your house may be more valuable to new buyers, with the current economic climate moving towards greener energy. Though it must be noted that if you are still paying off the loan when selling the house, this could actually put off potential buyers. You solar panels will not require much maintenance; the only component that could require replacing is the inverter. It will set you back around £800 but should last at least 20 years.
Installing Solar Panels – Do I Need Planning Permission?
When it comes to solar panel installation, it’s a 1-2 day job that needs to be completed by certified solar installers. Aim to have at least a couple of surveys, but ensure each installer meets the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.
In most cases, you will not need planning permission to install solar panels, unless you are living in a protected or conservation area.
Important Changes to the Feed-in Tariff
The Feed-in Tariff Scheme offers solar panel owners payment for the renewable energy they create.
Since the rest of the U.K began running on the Feed-in Tariff scheme, the Scottish government can no longer financially support Solar Energy in Scotland as they had previously.
As of this moment, the current rate is 4.93p/KW. On top of this payout, any surplus energy can be sold back to the National Grid. On average you could make around £400 per year, which goes a long way over 20 years.
However, it should be mentioned that on 8th February 2016 these prices are going to be cut by 64%. Although this is disappointing news, you will still be saving money and encouraging green energy to blossom.
There is one further consideration about the feed-in tariff scheme. If you use solar PV fitters in Scotland who work outside of the government, you will be unlikely to receive your payments. Also, make sure you use a government-approved energy supplier before you making a switch.
Though grants for free solar panels in Scotland are now hard to come, the Green Energy Scheme and its governing bodies may well introduce further opportunities in the future. Moreover, your support will most likely bring more. Imagine a solar-powered Scotland, green and luscious, vibrant with renewable solar energy.
Contact the Energy Savings Trust Scotland if you wish to receive more information or submit an application.