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Empowering UK: Exploring Solar Energy as the Solution

We've all noticed rising inflation in our favourite household foods, such as milk, eggs, and cheese (despite producing more than France), to name a few. Food prices are at a 14-year high and are expected to rise further in the coming months. But why is that?

With the UK importing approximately 50% of its gas, it is not surprising that the UK is hypersensitive to rising prices caused by global events. The term "fuel poverty" has unfortunately become a reality for millions of people across the UK. Increasing household bills, extra pounds on the weekly food shop, and rising fuel prices all contribute to an increasing number of people feeling the pinch!

Around three in four adults (77%) reported feeling very or somewhat worried about the rising costs of living, with rising energy prices being a growing factor in the squeeze on household budgets. The total price of gas in January 2022 was four times higher than it was in January 2021. Since the increase, the seven-day average price has reached highs of 12.8p per KWh in December 2021, according to national grid data. This was eight times higher than the previous year during the same time period. With December approaching and the energy cap being lifted, the coming months will be a source of concern for many. But is there a way out? And, if so, how many people could it possibly help?

Is solar our saving grace?

According to ByWater, who boast London’s largest ever solar PV retrofit, the sales of Solar panels are at an all-time high. In 2022 the UK has seen an average of 3000 purchases a week, 33% more than those purchased in 2020 (according to solar panel UK).

With the gap between the rising cost of living and the stagnated level of wages, it is no wonder that people are looking to other non-conventional sources to reduce the cost of living. The average cost of rent has increased by 38% in a decade. Over the same time, the rise in wages has only increased by 10%.

The growing disparities are causing a large number of people to invest in alternative methods. The big player being none other than… Solar. With the investment in solar being used to combat the increasing energy bills.

You might be thinking, with the cost of living reaching new highs, how could you possibly be able to afford solar panels? Well, Domestic Solar Panel installation has fallen by over 60% in the last 10 years with a typical system for a three-bedroom costing around £20,000 a decade ago. A new report from the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors indicates that this type of installation ranges between £9,000 - £11,700.

Installation on a one-bed house can start as low as £1,634. According to estimates, owners of solar panel systems will save £534 per year.

Advantages vs Disadvantages of Solar Panels 

Advantages vs Disadvantages

Planning and permissions

South-facing roofs are ideal for solar panels. East and west-facing roofs produce up to 20% less energy; north-facing roofs produce the least and are considered impractical in the UK.

A 3.5kW system requires 15 to 20 square metres of panel space. A roof angled at 30 degrees will produce the best results. According to consumer group Which? the majority of UK roofs are between 30 and 45 degrees.

Solar panels are permitted developments, so they do not usually require planning permission. There may be restrictions if you live in a listed building or a conservation area. To be certain, it is best to contact your local council.

When solar panels are installed, the company that provides electricity to your home, known as the Distribution Network Operator (DNO), must be notified. The Energy Networks Association has an online tool that will tell you which company operates in your area by entering your postcode.

According to Newby, if a solar system exceeds a certain size, prior permission from the DNO is required and can take up to three months to obtain. Installing the panels can take one to two days after the preparation for installing the system is complete.

Making money back

Under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), households can be compensated for excess electricity that is exported back to the grid. You can shop around for the best price for the energy you produce.

Solar Energy UK, a trade association, lists the best rates for homes that feed back into the grid. Tesla's Energy Plan is the most expensive, paying 12p per kWh, but it requires the installation of one of its own Powerwall batteries. Octopus Energy charges 7.5 pence per kWh.

The amount you save on your bills and the time it takes to recoup your investment vary depending on where you live, whether electricity is sold back to the grid, and how much energy you use.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, a property in London where residents are at home all day and selling energy back to the grid can save £385 per year. The same home would save £120 if residents stayed out until after 6 p.m. and did not feed electricity into the grid.

A home occupied for the day and feeding back saves £340 in Stirling, Scotland, while the same house empty and not feeding back saves £110.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, there has been little research on how solar panels affect property value, but those with better energy performance sell for more.

Following an analysis of property sales, Solar Energy UK discovered that homes with solar panels can increase in value by £1,800.

According to Horne, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certifies products and installations used to generate electricity and heat from renewable sources and should be used as a starting point to find accredited installers near you. Because prices vary, it is best to obtain three quotes before making a decision.

Should you install solar panels?

Evidently, the pros of solar energy greatly outweigh the cons. The cost to install solar is now cheaper than ever, the solar tax credit has been extended until 2035, and the price of electricity is only going to continue to rise. The sooner you make the switch to solar, the sooner you can start saving.

Energy saving trust provides an awesome tool named the solar energy calculator which can tell you everything from your potential annual benefit to the potential lifetime benefit. Also informing you of the installation costs.

Next steps:

  • We recommend you get three quotes to compare costs and services and be sure to consider planning permission.
  • Explore the Smart Export Guarantee tariffs available to you on the Solar Trade Association website.
  • Explore our MDE UK blogs, for more tips, news, and more.



Jose- Project and Business Development Renewables Recruitment Specialist
Jose- Project and Business Development Renewables Recruitment Specialist
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