Domestic Solar Power – A Case Study

Talk: “Domestic Solar Power – A Case Study” Tuesday 14th February by Charles Morgan RCEA
Charles introduced himself and showed us some slides of his recent engineering achievements, a 1/3 scale model of a Sopwith Pup complete with scale rotary engine and two 5” gauge steam locos. He then covered the principals and manufacture of solar pv panels, leading on to how his own house roof was in need of drastic maintenance. The tiles and lead work were replaced prior to installing the pv panels. We were told that the purpose of the talk, was to go through the experiences, results and to promote discussion, but perhaps most important of all for attendees to consider their own property as to whether they could find a financial benefit. A description of the components of the solar energy scheme were given with photos of this installation and general recommendations. The importance of getting several quotations was stressed and the vital control of the contractor. The government scheme was covered in detail and showing the recent changes that have been made.
The user controls were described and a warning was given not to get too paranoid about using your generated electricity with some amusing examples of the sort of conversations between spouses that could ensue such as “No dear I have just checked the forecast you must wait until tomorrow to do the washing, I can’t help it if that is the day that you were going to the RCEA’s coffee morning!”
It was made clear that the saving one got through using your generated electricity and feeding electricity into the grid was very small. The Feed in Tariff that is given by the government scheme is the money spinner and that is what makes it all so well worth while. There is no point in giving too much time or energy in monitoring the electricity you are using.
Disadvantages of installing panels was covered including: The capital would not effectively be recoverable, moving house would not entirely be a good idea, although this is debateable, possible theft of panels, durability and maintenance costs of the panels, changes in legislation.
However there are also conceivable problems with other conventional forms of investment such as companies or banks failing. We all know about Equitable life!! Inflation shocks, tax increases, loosing the capital on death The results from Charles’s first year were most impressive. From the capital cost a return of 13.66% was achieved and this is Tax free and was linked to the Retail Price Index. The whole scheme lasting for 25 years. The result was compared to, for example, an Annuity or pension income on which tax was payable. The figure that the solar scheme gives for a standard rate tax payer is thus a return of 17.07%
Charles was extremely pleased with his results and would, knowing what he knows now, most certainly do it again.
This is a very brief summary of his Power Point presentation. He concluded that even with the new payment rates solar power is still well worth looking into. Many questions from the attendees were answered until time ran out! C Morgan