I just got a mailing from Homebase of all people extolling the virtues and economics of going green by installing solar electricity panels on my roof.
So in the interests of saving the planet, let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer :
(1) “Solar PV panels convert light energy from the sun into electricity. Although they work best in full sunlight, they’ll still work if it’s cloudy.” But as I heat and cook by gas, I use most electricity when it’s dark. I asked. They don’t work at night.
(2) “Get paid for every unit of electricity you produce, and even more for what you don’t use.” Apparently this works because “you’ll be paid up to 41.3p***** for every unit of electricity you generate and an extra 3p for every unit you don’t use and export to the electricity network”. Sounds great, but “***** Based on retrofitting a solar photovoltaic system of less than (or equal to) 4kW in an existing, eligible property. Additional costs may be incurred.” Additional costs? Hmmmm….
(3) So how do we get the figures then? “Remote monitoring of your system, from a smart meter fitted in your home****.” Whoops – more asterisks. Ah – “**** The performance monitoring service also includes automated meter reading and is offered free for the first year to give you confidence in your installation. If you’d like it for longer, it can be continued at a charge of £4 a month.” To put it another way, they charge you to meter it.
So cutting right to the chase, let’s look at the costings :
A typical example* (Uh oh – another asterisk!)
Cost of our home solar power system = £11,150
Total savings on electricity bills = £2,426
FiT generation payments = £19,866
FiT export payments = £721
Total profit = £11,863
Looking good? Well, until you consider that “With a typical installation, you could break even in just under 13 years, giving you another 12 years of profit. You could make up to £700 in the first year alone and benefit from a typical annual rate of return of over 7%”
Also the ‘optional’ £4 per month metering charge more than wipes out your export payments. So it costs more to meter it than you get for exporting it.
And there are a lot of asterisks, and a lot of uses of the words ‘typical’ and ‘could’ in there, so I guess I need to simplify it for you :
If you are not thinking of staying in your house for at least 13 years, forget it. If you go to work all day and burn electric at night, forget it. If you don’t think lashing out eleven grand to save ‘up to’ ‘typically’ £700 quid a year is a good return, forget it. And if you think it will save the planet, forget it.
I know where my £11,150 is going. Where’s the holiday brochure?…